Regular storytimes are fun, but sometimes you’d like them to be fabulous.  Fortunately, local libraries, bookstores, schools and children’s museums are featuring story hours with some narrators who definitely come dressed for the occasion, and delight kids with their difference.  Drag Queen Story Hour is here, queer, and a blast for Pride month and beyond!

Something Different
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—a drag queen reads picture books to a group of little ones and leads them in a simple craft activity, such as face painting, decorating crowns or making wands. But, it’s also a little something extra, as the storyteller’s dazzling appearance catches the attention of even squirmy youngsters, and the experience gives tots a view of gender expression they might not otherwise see.

photo: Drag Queen Story Hour

New Classics
The program features a mix of story-time classics and books that address gender diversity and nontraditional family structures, according to Rachel Aimee, who coordinates DQSH in New York city. 
“We love Todd Parr’s books ‘It’s Okay to Be Different’ and ‘The Family Book,’” she says, along with books like “Worm Loves Worm” and “10,000 Dresses.”

photo: Drag Queen Story Hour

Librarian (and Mom) Approved
Judy Zuckerman, the Director of Youth and Family Services for the Brooklyn Public Library, says DQSH is “a fun and important program that celebrates diversity in the way that children may dress and act. It encourages children to look beyond gender stereotypes and embrace unfettered exploration of self.  Programs like DQSH encourage acceptance of difference and help to prevent bullying, while providing an enjoyable library experience.”

“That’s what I’m looking for, in all of our outings, is to present different ways of being in the world and make that fun and available to my kid,” said Kesa Huey, who brought her daughter to DQSH in Park Slope.  The crowd of wee listeners eagerly shouting out answers to drag performer Lil’ Miss Hot Mess seemed to be having a great time.

photo: Drag Queen Story Hour

Get Your Glitter On
Created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco, DQSH now happens regularly in LA, New York, and San Francisco, with events popping up in other cities across the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and even Taiwan.  Aimee says that in New York City, alone, they have thirteen drag queens on their roster who have attended trainings to do story hours (which really usually last about 45 minutes.)  The program is recommended as best for kids aged 3-8, but the crowds at recent iterations have proven that toddlers enjoy it, too.  Dressing up with sparkle and flair is not required, but is definitely welcome.

NYC-area DQSH readings are planned around Manhattan and Brooklyn this June, with a stop in Cherry Hill, NJ, as well.  Check out their event calendar, and if there’s not one coming up in your area, you can bring it up at your local library and email DQSH about organizing an event.  Start your engines, and may the best Queen win!

Have your kids been to Drag Queen Story Hour?  Tell us in the comments!

—Gretchen Kunz