The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas | Review

I took the long way on my bike, just to remind myself how much I hated where I lived. I know most teenagers probably say that about where they grew up, especially if it’s a small town like this one. And they probably mean that their hometown is slow and boring and that nothing everContinue reading “The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas | Review”

Terena Elizabeth Bell | Author Talk

In this episode, Terena Elizabeth Bell and I talk about the stories in TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE. We discuss her rural backrground and how that affects her writing, including the stories in this latest collection. We talk about rural places as culturally and linguistically rich supporters of art and the artists that produce it.Continue reading “Terena Elizabeth Bell | Author Talk”

Terena Elizabeth Bell | Teaser

Sometimes when I’m doing these talks, there’s part of the discussion that I really want to include but I’m not sure how to fit it in. This time it was just too good not to share, so I’ve made my first teaser. Sitting down with Bell was like chatting with an old friend from wordContinue reading “Terena Elizabeth Bell | Teaser”

Tell Me What You See by Terena Elizabeth Bell | Episode 2

In this episode I discuss how to use Bell’s story “#CoronaLife” to help students process the trauma of the pandemic, how it’s connected to place, and to study as a mentor text for their own writings. It even includes a sneak peak of the story! For more on rural language varieties: To get one,Continue reading “Tell Me What You See by Terena Elizabeth Bell | Episode 2”

Clown in a Cornfield: A Review by Jesse Bair

As is characteristic of gothic tales, Adam Cesare’s novel weaves a story that confronts its readers with what many wish to avoid. A reality all too real for educators today as information has become politicized and even the mentioning of systemic injustices have become taboo across the United States. Rural teachers may even experience suchContinue reading “Clown in a Cornfield: A Review by Jesse Bair”

New Year, New Feature | A Call for Rural YA/MG Book Reviews

Although I didn’t do a formal year in review this year (I’ll probably do one in June for the site’s anniversary), I’m always looking at what our guest contributors, YA authors, and I have been accomplishing through various Literacy In Place facets. Because I started this site with the intention of helping pre- and in-serviceContinue reading “New Year, New Feature | A Call for Rural YA/MG Book Reviews”

Tell Me What You See by Terena Elizabeth Bell Season 3: Episode 1

I’m kicking off Season 3 of Reading Rural YAL with TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE, an amazing short story collection by Terena Elizabeth Bell. I’m absolutely obsessed with it. It’s experimental, cutting edge, and powerful – especially in its exploration of life during the pandemic and the January 6th insurrection. I say it a millionContinue reading “Tell Me What You See by Terena Elizabeth Bell Season 3: Episode 1”

Author Talk | Kalynn Bayron

In this episode, I talk with New York Times Best-Selling and Whippoorwill Award winning Kalynn Bayron, who is the absolute epitome of cool. We talk about everything from her time growing up in Alaska, the underrepresentation of rural folks of color in YA, challenges faced by authors of marginalized identities in publishing, her reserach andContinue reading “Author Talk | Kalynn Bayron”

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron | Episode 2

In this episode, I detail the creative assessment and community exhibition “Mythology of Me” That I would use after students had finished reading the book. I also give shoutouts to Mrs. Pamme Meier-Fisher, the teacher who inspired me to be a teacher and with whom none of this’d be possible and to Randy Bomer andContinue reading “This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron | Episode 2”

Recapping NCTE: Reflecting on the Importance of Community

There is a home in my 300-house subdivision sandwiched between two other houses that has a wreath on it that says “Welcome to Our Farmhouse”. I never thought I’d identify with and/or relate so much to an inanimate object. We pass it every morning on our 2 mile walk, and every time, it makes meContinue reading “Recapping NCTE: Reflecting on the Importance of Community”

Guest Post | A rural out-migrant’s kinship with displaced people

By: Jennifer C. Mann I am so excited and grateful for this week’s guest post! I started this blog hoping it would be a place where folks would do the very thing Jennifer Mann is doing here–reflecting on how their rural upbringing and identity are intertwined with their identities as teachers (and/or students). I identifiedContinue reading “Guest Post | A rural out-migrant’s kinship with displaced people”

Author Talk | Ginny Myers Sain

In this episode, I sit down with Ginny Myers Sain. We talk about how place and rurality have impacted who she is and how she writes. She gives some solid tips and tricks for developing craft, especially through dialogue and one-act plays. We also chat about the representation of rural language varieties in young adultContinue reading “Author Talk | Ginny Myers Sain”

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain | Episode 2

In this episode I outline two activities that I would use to teach this text. One involves a dramatic reading (which I hope Sain would love since I know she loves theater) and the other is to come up with your town’s claim to fame. Get a copy of the book: Learn more aboutContinue reading “Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain | Episode 2”

Analyzing Rural Curriculum/Reading Choices: A Guide

One of the best things about getting emails from readers is that they usually give me insight into how the content of this online community is helping them or where they could use more support. I recently got an email from a community member about whether or not I had any guiding documents for howContinue reading “Analyzing Rural Curriculum/Reading Choices: A Guide”

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain | Episode 1

In this episode, I read from, summarize, and provide a brief critical place-based analysis of the Whippoorwill Award winning book. I specifically focus on place and how it shapes and is shaped by geography, history, and language practice. To buy the book: To checkout the Spooky Unit with reThink ELA: To see howContinue reading “Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain | Episode 1”

Work & (Un)Learning (Some) Rural Values

Lately I’ve been thinking not only about the things I learn from my work but also what I realize I need to unlearn. I have started to notice things and ask questions about certain ideologies and behaviors that I don’t think I would’ve otherwise. Why I do what I do? And is it good? AContinue reading “Work & (Un)Learning (Some) Rural Values”

Author Talk | Tim Lockette

Whippoorwill Award winning author Tim Lockette and I talk about TELL IT TRUE, how his rural background influences his writing, what it means and can look like to challenge rural stereotypes, how reading can influence your writing, and rural language practices. Shout-outs to Dr. Sarah J Donovan and EthicalELA. Get the book: More informationContinue reading “Author Talk | Tim Lockette”

Preserving Rural History & Lifeways | Tipton County Library

In April of 2017, Mamaw gave me a book that contained a chapter written by her mom, my Granny (Garnet Pryor). I was still relatively young when my Granny died, and as is usually the case, hadn’t thought to ask her about her growin’ up years. Instead, I played with her homemade dolls, ate herContinue reading “Preserving Rural History & Lifeways | Tipton County Library”

Guest Post | Gretchen Schroeder

I’m so excited for this guest contribution! I’ve written on here quite a bit about my own efforts to work through and understand my identity as a rural person who is now an out-migrant. I’ve also discussed my analysis of the tensions in rural identity in Nora Shalaway Carpenter‘s short story “Close Enough”. Which reallyContinue reading “Guest Post | Gretchen Schroeder”

Tell It True by Tim Lockette Episode 2

In this episode, I talk about some ideas for teaching Tell It True, including turning the class into a newsroom, partnering with the art class for printing, and sharing with the community and school. Resources From This Episode Daily Yonder Article: Get the book: More information about Tim Lockette:

Author Talk – Michelle Coles

In this episode, Michelle Coles and I talk about so many things: How transactions across different types of places teach us to see and celebrate difference as well as connect through commonality The importance of authentic and intersectional stories of rurality How we’re essentially in a third cycle of Reconstruction and civil rights Her inspirationContinue reading “Author Talk – Michelle Coles”

Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles: Episode 2

In this episode, I talk about the possibilities of co-teaching this book with a history teacher and brainstorm projects such as Little Known History: Reconstruction Edition where students could learn about the historical events and people of the novel through research game creation. Learn more about Michelle Coles and find copies of Black Was theContinue reading “Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles: Episode 2”

Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles: Episode 1

In this episode, I give a brief summary, read the first couple of pages, and do some critical place analysis of Michelle Coles’s Black Was the Ink. Its focus on Reconstruction America provides important connections to and insights for our own current cultural moment. It also importantly depicts Black rural folks – their history, struggles,Continue reading “Black Was the Ink by Michelle Coles: Episode 1”

Air by Monica Roe: Episode 3

In this episode, I discuss some critical rural pedagogical approaches to teaching AIR, including a reading unit framed by an essential question with suggestions for reader’s notebooks; a PBL writing unit designed to learn about and improve accessibility in students’ school and community. Learn more about critical rural English pedagogy: Resources about equity audits:Continue reading “Air by Monica Roe: Episode 3”

Happy Birthday, Literacy In Place!

Yesterday, I realized that today is the one year anniversary of announcing the launch of Literacy In Place!  I’m not usually one for quantitative data, but here are some numbers. Since the launch, LIP has clocked:  5,721 views 2,429 visitors 11 likes  7 comments What does this mean? Quite frankly, I’m not sure I knowContinue reading “Happy Birthday, Literacy In Place!”

Air by Monica Roe: Episode 2

In this episode, I talk about how rurality shapes accessibility and role that plays in shaping Emmie’s story. I also connect it to my own experiences as a rural student and teacher. If you haven’t filled out my survey yet, I’d really appreciate it if you could. Connected Resources: Why We Need More Rural PerspectivesContinue reading “Air by Monica Roe: Episode 2”

Rebuilding Our Worlds Again: Part 3

While interviewing the out-migrant teachers who participated in my dissertation study, those of us with children talked about the tensions we felt around how our kids were growing up differently than we did. That they were removed from rural living and their rural family members which meant that they didn’t have access to the oralContinue reading “Rebuilding Our Worlds Again: Part 3”

Author Talk – Drs. Rob Petrone & Allison Wynhoff Olsen

In this episode, Petrone and Wynhoff Olsen talk about their connections to rural places and the inspiration for their book. We discuss the affordances and challenges of living and teaching in rural places, work to outline what a critical rural English Pedagogy is, and how teachers and teachers educators can use critical rural pedagogy inContinue reading “Author Talk – Drs. Rob Petrone & Allison Wynhoff Olsen”

Building Our Worlds Again: Part 2

This week I wanted to continue thinking about what it means to be from somewhere and its connection to genetic memory – memories that become coded in our DNA and get passed down through generations over time – in order to think about what it means and can look like to value and preserve ruralContinue reading “Building Our Worlds Again: Part 2”

Trade Book Talks – Teaching English in Rural Communities Episode 2

In this episode of Reading Rural YAL, I discuss each chapter of Teaching English in Rural Communities in more detail to show you all the theoretical and practical awesomeness contained in this book. Here’s a link to more resources on using a critical rural lens in teaching reading and writing: Buy the book here.

Trade Book Talks – Teaching English in Rural Communities Episode 1

In this episode, I embark on a new feature of RRYAL – talking about trade books! Teaching English in Rural Communities is a book I wish I would’ve had when I was a rural English teacher. Here I provide a summary and reading of the first few pages. I hope this is helpful to allContinue reading “Trade Book Talks – Teaching English in Rural Communities Episode 1”

Why We Need More Rural Voices In Publishing

I recently finished Monica Roe’s recently published novel AIR. It’s excellent for so many reasons, and I’ll get to that a little bit later in this post, but first I wanted to address the bone I have to pick with Kirkus as a way to illustrate why we need more rural voices across all areas and aspects ofContinue reading “Why We Need More Rural Voices In Publishing”

Interview: Jenn Sanders, Co-Founder of The Whippoorwill Award for Rural YA Literature

In this bonus episode of Reading Rural YAL, Dr. Jenn Sanders, one of the co-founders of the Whippoorwill Award for Rural Young Adult Literature discusses how and why the award got started, how winners are selected, and what she hopes the Whippoorwill does for rural teachers and students. To see past winners and learn more,Continue reading “Interview: Jenn Sanders, Co-Founder of The Whippoorwill Award for Rural YA Literature”

Author Talk: Christopher Barzak

In this episode, Christopher Barzak and I cover *a lot* of ground. Because of our shared rural Midwestern experiences, we spend quite a bit of time talking about aspects of rural culture that we both recognize and have experienced. We also talk about his experiences in the global rural through his time living and teachingContinue reading “Author Talk: Christopher Barzak”

Building Our Worlds Again: Preserving Rural Stories and Culture

I recently had the immense honor of being a guest teacher in a rural classroom in Arkansas (thanks, Zoom!). And it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. My lesson was a writing workshop on folk writing and how we can use family stories to inform our writing across genres and disciplines. Continue reading “Building Our Worlds Again: Preserving Rural Stories and Culture”

The Whippoorwill Book Award for Rural YA Literature

For those of you following along, you may know that I am ecstatic to have recently become a member of the Whippoorwill Book Award selection committee. When I saw this award come on the scene a few years ago, I was so excited that there was someone out there finding Rural YAL and taking itContinue reading “The Whippoorwill Book Award for Rural YA Literature”

Author Talk: Pedro Brown Hoffmeister

In this episode, I talk with Pedro Brown Hoffmeister about so many things! To say this was a great conversation is a massive understatement. Pedro is such an insightful human being and excellent storyteller. This one is definitely a can’t-miss conversation. If you enjoy it even half as much as I did, I would appreciateContinue reading “Author Talk: Pedro Brown Hoffmeister”

Guest Post | How can rural libraries better serve young adult readers?

Novels like Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars, Kathleen M. Jacobs’s Sophie and the Book Mobile, and Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek all highlight the importance of books to rural readers and the lengths folks have been willing to go, to make sure that there were books in rural spaces toContinue reading “Guest Post | How can rural libraries better serve young adult readers?”

Guest Post | What does it mean for higher education to be rural located and rural serving?

Recently, both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education reported on research that is working to identify and define institutions of higher education that are rural located and rural serving. In this week’s blog, Dr. Casey T. Jakubowski responds to and offers critiques of these efforts, questioning who the work really serves. OfferingContinue reading “Guest Post | What does it mean for higher education to be rural located and rural serving?”

Our First Guest Contribution!

This week’s blog post is a special one: It’s LIP’s first GUEST CONTRIBUTION (!) and it’s from our volunteer-extraordinaire – Anna Grace. In it, she discusses and details her continued efforts to define what it means to be rural. After recalling a story from her high-school days, Anna walks us through her experiences as anContinue reading “Our First Guest Contribution!”

RRYAL: Author Talk – Carly Heath

In this episode, Heath and I discuss everything from her rural background, farm and horse injuries, creating the world of a book while not living there, advice for young writers, and more. Follow her – On Twitter: @carlylheath On Instagram: @carlylynheath On the Web: Pick up the book:

RRYAL: Author Talk – Melissa Wyatt

In this video, Melissa Wyatt and I cover a lot of ground. Here are some of the major things we talk about: 01:25: Where she’s from 04:05 Defining rural 07:12 Becoming a writer 08:24 Crafting people and places that aren’t where you’re from 10:14 Who gets to write rural stories 14:31 Disrupting and nuancing dominantContinue reading “RRYAL: Author Talk – Melissa Wyatt”

RRYAL: Melissa Wyatt’s Funny How Things Change Episode 1

In this episode, I provide a summary of Wyatt’s novel as well as read the first few pages. I’m really excited to talk about this text because of the way the narrative of leaving a rural place sits in conversation with that of Zentner’s In the Wild Light. Check out Wyatt’s Twitter thread mentioned inContinue reading “RRYAL: Melissa Wyatt’s Funny How Things Change Episode 1”

RRYAL: Author Talk – Jeff Zentner

In this episode, Jeff and I talk about everything from genetic memory of place to why he became a writer and his advice for aspiring writers out there. Here are the time codes: 01:44 His background and connections to rural people and places 03:58 Genetic memory and place 07:24 Why he became a writer andContinue reading “RRYAL: Author Talk – Jeff Zentner”

RRYAL: Jeff Zentner’s In the Wild Light Episode 4

During this episode, I outline a possible assignment that uses embodied knowledge and a chosen passage from In the Wild Light to inform students’ writing. Students visit places in the community they love, take pictures, create Wordles, and ultimately write place-connected pieces that they then invite the community to view.

RRYAL: Jeff Zentner’s In the Wild Light Episode 3

In this episode, I detail my reaction to Zentner’s text as a rural out-migrant and hillbilly reader. I discuss how IN THE WILD LIGHT raises questions about the experiences of rural out-migrants as well as the hero narrative attributed to rural folks who choose to leave their hometowns to pursue higher education.

RRYAL: Author Talk – JR Jamison

In this interview, J.R. and I talk about everything from his rural background and its impact on his writing, building bridges across difference, the importance of translanguaging, and his writing life and advice for aspiring authors. See specific time codes below. 01:26 His rural background and its impact on his writing 07:58 Why he writesContinue reading “RRYAL: Author Talk – JR Jamison”

RRYAL: Author Talk – Nora Shalaway Carpenter

In this video Nora and I discuss: 01:26 Her rural background and its impact on her writing 06:34 Why she became a writer 11:20 What her writing life is like 14:23 First drafts, failures, and knowing your process 22:49 Finding your unique voice 25:15 What makes a good story 29:38 The importance of audience 34:21Continue reading “RRYAL: Author Talk – Nora Shalaway Carpenter”

RRYAL: Nora Shalaway Carpenter’s Rural Voices Episode 3

In this episode, I walk through each of the individual pieces in the Rural Voices anthology, discussing what I liked or thought was important about them and share a favorite quote from each. Here are the time codes: 01:05 The (Unhealthy) Breakfast Club by Monica Roe 01:54 The Hole of Dark Kill Hollow by RobContinue reading “RRYAL: Nora Shalaway Carpenter’s Rural Voices Episode 3”

RRYAL: Kekla Magoon’s Season of Styx Malone Episode 4

In this episode, I drop some rapid fire ideas and then talk more in depth about how I would run place-based book clubs that look across Black experiences in rural and urban places. The clubs would serve to offer students an opportunity to explore and think with one another about the similarities and differences ofContinue reading “RRYAL: Kekla Magoon’s Season of Styx Malone Episode 4”

RRYAL: Kekla Magoon’s Season of Styx Malone Episode 3

In this episode, I talk about my reaction to Magoon’s story. Representation matters, so I think one of the most important aspects of this book is that it gives readers opportunities to engage with the fact that people of color exist and thrive and experience hardship and joy in rural spaces. That they sometimes wantContinue reading “RRYAL: Kekla Magoon’s Season of Styx Malone Episode 3”

RRYAL: Kekla Magoon’s Season of Styx Malone Episode 1

This first episode provides a summary of and reading of the first pages of Kekla Magoon’s award-winning novel. **It has come to my attention that I did not pronounce Magoon’s name correctly in this first video. Now that I know better I will do better and get it right in subsequent videos.

RRYAL: Courtney Summers’s Sadie Episode 1

This is the inaugural four-part deep dive that paved the way for all the other episodes. Each subsequent series follows this structure – a summary video and reading of the first pages; an analysis of place in the text; my reaction as a rural reader; and some teaching ideas for folks interested in adding itContinue reading “RRYAL: Courtney Summers’s Sadie Episode 1”

RRYAL: Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King: Episode 1

I was so fortunate to get this book in my ALAN box. If you are an ELA teacher, librarian, or otherwise YA advocate, you need to know about ALAN aka Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE. Here’s a link to their website for more details about their annual conference and other helpful stuff. InContinue reading “RRYAL: Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King: Episode 1”

Introducing the Reading Rural YAL Podcast!

Over the past few months, I’ve book-talked eight rural YAL books over the course of 31 videos and interviewed four fabulous authors. In talking with folks who follow the show, I realized that it might be nice for y’all to be able to listen while on the move and not in front of a screen.Continue reading “Introducing the Reading Rural YAL Podcast!”

What Is (My) Rural Language Variety?

First, I’ll preface this post with the fact that I am not a trained linguist or sociolinguist. But, I am a speaker of a rural English variety. One that has always been at odds with the Standard Mainstream Upper/Middle-Class English valued in learning spaces. One that I worked hard to unlearn and keep out ofContinue reading “What Is (My) Rural Language Variety?”

Who Gets to be a Hillbilly?

As I was scrolling through Instagram this morning, I came across an opinion piece published in the Washington Post that had been shared by @ReadingAppalachia called “When J.D. Vance called himself a hillbilly, it made me mad. Now I’m upset that he stopped.” by Cassie Chambers Armstrong. In it she discusses her frustration and ire that VanceContinue reading “Who Gets to be a Hillbilly?”

“Can I be your friend?”

A City Exchange A while back, my dad visited me in Austin. Because of our love for Texas singer/songwriters and Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues,” the Texas Chili Parlor (and a Mad Dog Margarita) was a necessary excursion. We decided to make the three-block trip on foot in the heat of August. Now, Dad has aContinue reading ““Can I be your friend?””

Investing in Community: Gaston’s The Barking Cow

First, A Little History:  In elementary school, I remember going to a school convocation in Harrison Elementary where a woman taught us about the history of Gaston. All I remember is that the town sprang up in the 1850s because of the natural gas boom. Thus the name Gas-town – Gaston. The pocket wasn’t asContinue reading “Investing in Community: Gaston’s The Barking Cow”