New in New York: Drag Queen Story Hour

Library brings drag queens in for story time with children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 18, 2017 8:37 AM CDT
New in New York: Drag Queen Story Hour
In this Saturday, May 13, 2017 photo, Lil Miss Hot Mess poses for a photo with a child after reading to a group of children during the Feminist Press' presentation of Drag Queen Story Hour! at the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, in New York.   (Mary Altaffer)

It takes a certain something to be a good storyteller: enthusiasm, timing, and a flair for the dramatic. Performers at a children's story hour at a New York City library have all that and then some—they're drag queens. About once a month since last fall, the Brooklyn Public Library has been presenting Drag Queen Story Hour, where performers with names such as Lil Miss Hot Mess and Ona Louise regale an audience of young children and their parents, the AP reports. There's even a drag-queen version of "Wheels on the Bus" in which Lil Miss Hot Mess sings of hips that go "swish, swish, swish" and heels that go "higher, higher, higher." "Drag queens and children don't usually get together, which I think is a shame and one of the benefits of a program like this," Lil Miss Hot Mess says.

"It's great that it teaches them self-acceptance in a very general way," she adds of the program, which got its start in San Francisco. Something like this program "could be a really positive model for kids," especially since kids in the preschool age range are open to the idea of dressing up and fantasy, says Christia Spears Brown, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky. It "ultimately provides children with a really flexible model of gender," she says. "And that mental flexibility about gender will benefit all kids, regardless of how gender-typical they themselves are." The response has been largely positive, says Kat Savage, a children's librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library. And for those who don't approve? "We just tell people: 'If it's not for you, you don't have to come,'" she says. (More drag queens stories.)

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