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Wonder How You Can Support Drag Story Hour- Az?

Here are some of the questions I have heard:

  • Why does there need to be DRAG in story hours?

  • Why do LGBTQ+ inclusive books need to be read?

  • Why do picture books have to focus on the BIPOC community?

  • Why can't we get first-responders to read instead of Drag performers?

  • What qualifications does a Drag Queen have to read to children?

I started coordinating story hours at a public library. I quickly learned that putting together story hours was more than choosing a book to read. Creating a story hour curriculum involves attending webinars and trainings to keep up with current practices. It involves intentionally building the story hour to include early literacy concepts and resources that little readers and their grownups can take with them as they continue their literacy journey at home.


I quickly started to notice that story hours rarely featured narratives that represented members from the LGBTQ+, the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and members from other oppressed and marginalized communities. Special story hours were designated to celebratory months such as Black History Month and Latinx Heritage Month. After these months, story hour blogs and websites reverted back to featuring titles that centered white, cis-gender characters whose families had hetero-parents. Rainbow story hours that celebrated LGBTQ+ picture books were few and far between; my public library refused to hold an outright LGBTQ+ inclusive story hour.


Is there an issue with picture books featuring white, cis-gender characters with hetero-parents? Absolutely not! There are classic titles such as Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban and Garth Williams that tells the story of Frances getting ready for bed with her mother and father and caregivers can use this title to explain the importance of bedtime and the traditions that come with it. Another title, Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century by Jane O’Connor, features a white young girl and helps little readers become familiar and prepare for big events like weddings. Both titles are fun and can enhance a story hour.


Issues arise when people begin restricting the possibility of sharing narratives from other communities. Parallel to the Fancy Nancy title The Big Ceremony by Ozi Okaro shares the traditions of Nigerian weddings that can help readers with Nigerian heritage connect to the book and also introduce Nigerian cultures to readers from other cultures. A title that I received pushback for was Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and Mike Curato, a story of two worms getting married and showing the various steps of planning the wedding. The grief over this title is that the two main characters- worms, which are asexual (Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2022)- do not abide by gender roles and strict binary concepts of sexuality. All that matters is that worm loves worm. When I read Austrian and Curato's titles at a story hour, a parent approached me during craft time to ask why I thought the title was appropriate for a "Love" themed story hour.


This was the point that I decided that my story hours had to not only entertain but include diverse narratives. Within the next two years, I was working with the fantastic Drag Story Hour- Arizona crew to provide inclusive and safe spaces for readers of all corners of Arizona.


To answer the questions above:

  • Why does there need to be DRAG in story hours?

    • Drag performers are similar to Disney and fairytale characters because of the magic and glamour that they put into their craft. Their outfits often sparkle and impress. Drag performers are artists in every respect and utilize their talent to enhance the story hour. We have Drag storytellers with theatre backgrounds that add to the storytelling. We have Drag storytellers that are educators who use their expertise to touch on early literacy concepts.

  • Why do LGBTQ+ inclusive books need to be read?

    • There are readers of all ages who have a connection to the LGBTQ+ community, despite the false popular opinion that children do not know about or cannot be apart of the community. Their caregiver can be Trans, an uncle may have a same-sex partner, a sibling may be non-binary or their family may strive to become familiar and accepting of people from all communities. LGBTQ+ narratives help children to connect with the community and learn empathy for people that might be different or exactly like them!

  • Why do picture books have to focus on the BIPOC community?

    • Children of all race and creed deserve to see themselves in the books they read. As with LGBTQ+ picture books, BIPOC narratives help readers to connect with their heritage or learn about a different cultures to build empathy for people who are different from them. There are many wonderful books such as Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison, that empowers children to see their unique beauty in the same way as the main character learns to love her beautiful complexion, which is described to be the color of midnight. Indigenous communities have cultures rooted in storytelling and titles such as Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince, Gabrielle Prince and Carla Joseph provides a connection to long-had traditions. Representation matters.

  • Why can't we get first-responders to read instead of Drag performers?

    • Drag storytellers do not erase other storytellers. Drag storytellers can work hand in hand with not only first-responders but librarian/ library workers, politicians, religious leaders and all other types of storytellers. Venues that offer Drag Story Hours often offer a plethora of other programming that does not involve Drag and that is okay! We can share the stage.

  • What qualifications does a Drag Queen have to read to children?

    • There are many forms of Drag and we should not leave out our Kings and Non-Binary storytellers. Drag Story Hour is made up of a network of early literacy specialists, Drag performers and more. We collaborate with one another to create processes and procedures, resource packets and content to ensure that our mission and values are being upheld. Drag storytellers are required to complete trainings. Here in Arizona, I am responsible for ensuring that our storytellers receive the resources to ensure that our story hours provide the best experiences for readers!


While we may not be the answer to everyone's story hour, we are the answer to many. Please do not take away safe and inclusive spaces from those who need and want it.


Thank you, Freddy Prinze Charming, for letting everyone know how grateful Drag Story Hour- Az is for our readers! The support we get from the community speaks volumes. Here are several ways you can continue to support the story hour.


Remember, throughout March, post your favorite Bookmans memory/ photo and tag @bookmans AND @dragstoryhouraz to have a chance to win swag 🐑Ms. Michelle will follow up with winners!


Love, Ms. Michelle (she, hers/ ella)

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