When choosing literature for your students to read and discuss, there's always much discussion about selecting books in which the students can see themselves. When they can relate to the characters in a book -- due to their environment, character traits, or life experiences -- students become more interested in the larger discussion.
However, many teachers are focused on finding those books which depict urban settings and experiences while forgetting all about those growing up in rural communities. The assumption is made that urban settings are few and far between when the opposite argument is true: Very few books have rural settings and those students find it difficult to relate to the urban book settings.
This dichotomy is where my guest Dr. Chea Parton is focusing her efforts: on bringing awareness to the lack of rural books. Parton is a farm girl and former rural student and teacher. After teaching English in a rural Indiana school, she decided to pursue graduate studies to learn more about how to be and better prepare rural ELA teachers.
To that end, she has developed a website called Literacy In Place that houses a blog about being, teaching, and learning in rural spaces as well as a list of rural YA books and features resources for teachers and teacher educators who want to teach them. She also runs a YouTube series/podcast called Reading Rural YAL where she book talks, analyzes, reacts to, and provides teaching ideas for teaching rural YAL as well as interviews rural YA authors. She currently teaches at The University of North Texas and has recently accepted a position at Purdue University.
Resources from this episode
Essential Question: What specific actions can you take to make your curriculum more meaningful to your rural students?