The Upside Down Kid: Diversity and Cultures

Please stay with me as you read. There is a reason why I am sharing this story and a Sesame Street video. At the end, you will find a resource list and the professional development for February 2017.

I was reading Knowledge Quest last week. In case you did not notice, I am one for doing a lot of self-reflection. The articles made me remember a summer when I was the “upside down” kid who was “doing her own thing.”

Have you ever had the feeling that you were in a place that you did not belong? All of the “signs” suggest that you should be there, but your heart tells you something else. This happened to me the summer before I started high school. I lived in New York and my parents announced that we would be visiting our family “Down South.” “Down South” was a creative of letting me know that we were going to Florida.

When we arrived, I was excited to learn that I had four female cousins that I had never met before. “Excellent!” I thought. They can be like the sisters I have always wanted.

My cousin “Sue” and I quickly gravitated to each other. But the rest were uninterested. Soon, I learned that all of us were not going to be like sisters.

As they laughed and cajoled each other with familiar talk of the boys they liked, what happened in church, and the teachers that they would have in school, I sat wishing that I could establish that same familiarity. We were family and looked similar, but we were not the same. I understood that I needed to learn more about them and spend time with them before I really was part of them. There was a general “love” for me. But I was still the girl that spoke and acted differently. How did this happen? It was simple. Their culture was different from mine.

That summer, in my attempt to become a part of my cousins’ inner circle, I assumed that our heritage would be enough to gain access to their culture. Things got better. But it was a long summer. Eventually my parents permanently moved us to Florida and I learned how to be a part of my “southern” family. However, I recognized that being a part of them required me to recognize their norms.

We all belong to various cultures and subcultures. Negotiating norms and appreciating and respecting the nuances of cultures are important skills that we must practice throughout life. We exercise these skills as we complete our education, form our careers, and socialize.

As the January/February 2017 edition of Knowledge Quest points out, school librarians are often instrumental in helping students build these skills. Our students should understand that sometimes there is an “upside down kid” and that the “upside down kid,” whether they are different because of their disability, mental illness, addiction, race, socio-economic status, gender, sexual identity, religion, or other barriers, deserve to exist in an equitable and safe environment.

If you missed it, know that it is a must-read. The topics of diversity, cultural competency, and equity are worth the attention. I am inspired by the topic and put together a table of book lists covering diversity topics. Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list and I did not curate the books on each list. However, I hope that you find the links helpful.


16 Book Lists About Diversity Topics
Topic List Title
Diversity An Expanded Cultural Diversity Booklist: SLJ Readers Respond
Diversity WNDB End of the Year Book Lists


Gay and Lesbian Themes and Topics
in Selected Children’s and Young Adult Books
People of Color Book Dragon: Books for the Multi-Culti Reader
People of Color 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know
People of Color 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know
Disabilities Disabled Characters in YA Literature
Disabilities Redefining Normal: Books About Teens with Special Needs
Disabilities Stories About Disabilities or Illnesses
Social Inclusion Read-Alouds About Poverty and Class
Social Inclusion Mend A Broken Heart: Homeless and Abused Teens in YA Fiction
Addiction Substance Abuse Fiction for Teens
Mental Illness Realistic Teen Fiction and Mental Health
a Book List
Stereotyping Books Matter: General Anti-Bias
Gender Children’s Books that Break Gender Role Stereotypes
Gender Books Matter: Gender and Sexism


February 2017 Professional Development

Title:  Makerspaces in ECE: A Planning Guide for Administrators, by Margaret Powers

  • Organization: Early Childhood Investigations
  • Date: Wednesday, February 01, 2017 @ 01:00 pm – 02:30 pm CST
  • Description: Join this webinar to learn the basics of starting a makerspace in an early learning center and designing developmentally appropriate projects that engage children in hands-on making and learning. We will discuss the maker movement and its implications for early childhood education and the key physical components of a makerspace before diving into some project examples and a discussion of tools and materials that can facilitate deeper engagement with tinkering, engineering, and creating open-ended products. We will also touch on the mindsets that are needed for this type of work and the value of creating experiences that foster those mindsets in young children.
  • Link:

Title:  Rigor is NOT a Four Letter Word

  • Organization:
  • Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2017 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST
  • Description: Rigor is a key focus of today’s educational reform. What exactly is rigor? What does it look like in the classroom? What are the myths about rigor? In this webinar, Dr. Barbara Blackburn will help you understand instructional rigor and what it looks like in the classroom. Barbara will discuss:
    • What instructional rigor is
    • What specific aspects of instruction support rigor
    • Practical examples of rigorous instructional activities.
  • Link:

Title:  Technology Integration Made Easy with EDpuzzle

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2017 @ 06:00 pm – 07:30 pm CST
  • Description: Want to engage and assess your students with instructional video? Learn how to do just that with EDpuzzle.  Transform your classroom activities by learning how to use EDpuzzle. Engage students and deepen content area knowledge by using instructional videos. Learn how to select a video, make minor edits, and add questions to bring additional context to content area instruction for your students and monitor progress. Brainstorm with others about how you and your students can use EDpuzzle in your classroom.
  • Link:

Title:  Bleep, Blorp, Books: Robots in the Library

  • Organization: Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Date: Wednesday, February 08, 2017 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm CST
  • Description: Join us as we discuss the benefits of providing robotics programs to youth patrons and how to get started. Katelyn Patterson of CTLS will discuss why robotics is a wonderful way to offer STEM programming and how to get started. Cecily Ponce de Leon of the Plano Public Library System will give an overview of how PPLS has been implementing robotics programs for several years.
  • Link:

Title:  Five Tips for Getting Blended Learning Right

  • Organization:
  • Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST
  • Description: In this research-driven webinar, Julia Freeland Fisher, Director of Education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, shares key findings from her organization’s years of blended learning research, as well as lessons learned from the hundreds of school systems that the Institute has studied. She will cover both essential considerations for systems just getting started with blended learning, plus effective professional development and evaluation techniques for schools further along in implementing blended models.
  • Link: 

Title:  Getting Started with OneNote

  • Organization: TeachersFirst
  • Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 06:00 pm – 07:30 pm CST
  • Description: Want to go paperless? Looking for a way to revolutionize your teaching and learning? Experience the power of Microsoft’s FREE OneNote! Microsoft OneNote is a free tool that takes digital notebooks to the extreme while keeping everything together on all of your devices. Organize, create, and collaborate anytime anywhere with text, audio, video, files, digital ink, and so much more! Provide support, feedback, and encouragement from one simple application.
  • Link:

 Title:  Media Literacy: A Crash Course in 60 Minutes

  • Organization:
  • Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm EST
  • Description: Let’s face it. Fake media is a hot topic in, ahem, the media. But it is also a hot topic in education. In November 2016, the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) published Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, a study that revealed concerning results. Because students increasingly turn to online news to meet their research needs, it is more important than ever for educators to help them separate truth from fiction. In this session, USA TODAY Reporter Greg Toppo will join Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School, CT to discuss shifting trends in the news business and what teachers can do to help their learners sift through the information pool to find trustworthy journalism. This webinar will benefit librarians.
  • Link:

Title:  How Google is Forever Changing the Classroom

  • Organization: Simple K12
  • Date: Saturday, February 25, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 03:30 pm EST
  • Description: This webinar provides tips and shortcuts to make using Google tools easier than ever, including some new tools. Topics will include:
    • How you can use Google tools to get students working and learning with technology.
    • Strategies for implementing these Google tools into your classroom right away, plus fun project ideas.
  • Link:



Author: Daniella Smith

Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.

Categories: Blog Topics, Professional Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

Tags: , , , ,

2 replies

  1. This is an amazing post. After attending the ALA Midwinter meeting, participating in various programs on diversity, and hearing the reports from the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion task force, I am pleased to see these results shared in such a timely manner.

  2. The links are not working for me.

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