Drag Queen Story Hour is coming to Squamish

Children's books to be read at Jan. 25 event

Storytime at the Squamish Public Library is about to get glam.

In honour of Family Literacy Day, the library and Pride Squamish are hosting Drag Queen Story Hour. Dee Blew — a drag queen from Vancouver — will read  books to children.

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Similar events have popped up at libraries in Canada and around the world. In Squamish, the inaugural Pride Squamish festivities in September had a drag storytelling event that was well attended.

For local mom Cristina Bardorf, her first Drag Queen Story Hour was in Berlin. There, she saw how much fun all the kids were having. A mom of a toddler, Bardorf said she's only recently discovered the genre that aims to bring more diversity to children's books. When she returned home to Squamish, she approached the library to see if they were interested in hosting such an event.

Drag Queen Story Hour will feature books that not only introduce kids to topics like gender, but also how many different types of families there are.

"They reflect such a broader view of the population," Bardorf said. "It's really about how your family looks is totally different and totally fine.

"The idea is that you build empathy by understanding other people's ways of life and that should, especially with children, reduce bullying and [build] better understanding and compassion for the people around us in our community."

Starting at 2 p.m., the Jan. 25 event will feature two stories and time will be allotted for dress-up and pictures. It is a free and family-friendly event.

"The Squamish Public Library is thrilled to partner with Pride Squamish and local community members to provide a welcoming space for Drag Queen Story Hour," Hilary Bloom, director of library services, said in an email. "This new programming series is a perfect fit with the library's mission, 'To welcome, inspire and connect our community to new worlds of learning, literacy and creativity'. Libraries are truly for everyone, and we are proud of the role we play in Squamish of celebrating diversity, individuality and inclusion."

Bardorf added that most of the books will also be available on loan from the library.

"The library's done a great job of investing in a lot of these books to make them available to the community in an affordable way," Bardorf said.

While this is the first Drag Queen Story Hour, Bardorf said they hope to make it a quarterly event. She'd like to have a local drag queen participate, and host an event outdoors when the weather allows more people to attend. Already, Bardorf said organizers are expecting a packed house.

"The number one thing at the end of the day is it's supposed to be a fun event. It's not supposed to be a political statement of any sort. It really just is exposure to a new genre of books in a really fun way."

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