A Year(ish) in Review

Seeing all those Spotify year end posts got me thinking about what my stats for the Literacy In Place and Reading Rural YAL would be. I was curious to see how many rural books I’ve read, how many videos I’ve made, and how many blog posts I’ve done.

A disclaimer: Technically this isn’t a whole year because I didn’t even start this whole enterprise until June. I’m so excited by and proud of the work that I’ve done so far and looking forward to all the awesome things 2022 has in store!

Rural Books I’ve Read

I think this is actually missing a few, but these are some of the rural books I’ve read. It’ll be interesting to see what next year’s list looks like. I enjoyed every single one of them. You can find reviews for a good portion on my Goodreads and look for more as I work to catch up. Be sure to follow me to never miss an update.

Reading Rural YAL Videos

I’ve done a total of 31 (!) videos about 8 books. I’ve settled into a rhythm of four to five videos per book: (1) Summary and reading of first pages; (2) Analysis of how rurality and place function in the text; (3) My reactions to the book as a rural (out-migrant) reader; (4) Teaching ideas for the book; and (5) Where possible – interviews with the author of the book featured in the series.

I LOVE getting to talk and think about young adult books, dreaming up teaching ideas for them. It has also been such a joy to get to talk with authors; pick their brains about how their place-connected backgrounds have influenced their writing; and hear them give advice to aspiring writers. Subscribe to the channel to never miss a beat in 2022.

Blogs Written

I’ve written a total of eight blog posts since June. All of them consider what it means and looks like to be rural; how that impacts and shapes identity formation; and invite other rural and rural out-migrated folks to think alongside me. (See a few of the most recent pieces below.)

I’m hoping that maybe you or your students or someone you know will contribute to the blog and help us grow our online rural community in the coming year. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or want to collaborate with me!

In-Migrant by Ben Lathrop

On July 7, 2021, the day that two semis arrived at the ramshackle 1889 three-story home we’d purchased in Attica, Indiana (pop. 3,100), carrying all the belongings our family of seven had accumulated over the past 17 years, the family across the street—Randy, Ann, Susan, and Alex—showed up with a pan of homemade lasagna (all…

Fate for a Cat by Allison Strange | Ep. 1 Summary & Analysis

In this episode, I talk about Allison Strange’s winning story, Fate for a Cat. I read a bit from the beginning, give a summary, and then give a brief analysis of how place and rurality function in the story and how/why I connected it to it. Learn more about why I started the Rural Teen…

Missing Clarissa | A Review by Heather Matthews

Title: Missing Clarissa Author: Ripley Jones Publisher: Wednesday Books (imprint of Macmillan) Publication date: March 7, 2023 Recent YAL trends have been following what seems to be a new and nontraditional American pastime of indulging in true crime podcasts. Novels like Sadie (Summers, 2018), I Hope You’re Listening (Ryan, 2020), and A Good Girl’s Guide…

Here’s to an exciting new year!

The last few years have been tough. And they only seem to get tougher as the pandemic rages on and social issues needing fixed go ignored. But in spaces like this, we can come together and build communities of support and encouragement and joy. So, as this new year begins, I wish you sunshine and just enough rain to help you grow. Thanks for being here – for walking this road with me – and I’m looking forward to all the exciting things 2022 will bring!

We can break the cycle – We can break the chain
We can start all over – In the new beginning
We can learn, we can teach
We can share the myths the dream the prayer
The notion that we can do better
Change our lives and paths
Create a new world 

And start all over

Tracy Chapman – New Beginning

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