A unique reading: Nevada County library will host the Drag Queen Story Hour for the first time
The Madelyn Helling Library will be hosting a reading hour this Saturday not so unlike the hundreds of others that occur throughout the year.
This Saturday’s event, however, will be led by an individual dressed in drag.
For the first time, Drag Queen Story Hour, run by a New York nonprofit that has drag queens read to children in libraries across the country, will be coming to Nevada County.
This weekend’s event will be similar to every other story hour, said Cindy Pawlowski, Madelyn Helling Branch Manager. The event will include reading Dr. Seuss books, singing songs and doing an arts and crafts activity.
Pawlowski said the library is not advocating a particular lifestyle. She said the library feels it’s important for people to explore diversity, creativity and different lifestyles from an early age.
“Early childhood is a time for imagination and exploration,” she said.
District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall agreed.
“Children are naturally open and curious,” she said. “The more that we get them to see that the world is a big place with a lot of variety” the better off they are.
Drag Queen Story Hour has sparked controversy in other libraries across the country.
In Nevada County, Pawlowski said some people who feel discomfort with the library’s event hold the misconception the story hour will be similar to an overtly sexual drag queen show.
Nevada County resident Janet White expressed such sentiment. She doesn’t have a problem with drag queens specifically, but thinks exposing children to one is inappropriate.
“I don’t believe this is needed except to stir the pot,” said White. “After all, drag queen shows are usually 21 years and over.”
In these instances, the branch manager has tried to clarify the event’s intention.
“There is no sexual tone in nature,” she said. “This is geared directly for a young age group, and it is appropriate for that audience.”
SOME AGAINST, MORE IN FAVOR
“The overwhelming response to the event has been very positive,” said Pawlowski.
Hall agreed. For every negative letter she has received, there have been five positive ones, she said.
“We have received an overwhelming number of letters in support of this,” said Hall. “People think it’s fun and exciting.”
Still, there have been some detractors. Erica Langley, a Grass Valley resident and mother of three children, believes children are too young to be exposed to the different form of expression.
“I am horrified that anyone thinks it’s OK to subject our children (specifically ages 3-8 as advertised) to this story hour featuring a drag queen who is flaunting their sexuality and obnoxious mockery of women,” said Langley in an email to The Union.
More often, residents expressed gratitude for the library’s openness.
A few thought the event would be particularly positive for young boys.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to help normalize the whole drag queen scene and show little boys that having ‘feminine’ qualities is not a bad thing,” said Jenna Sauter in an email to The Union.
Lyndon Lossow agreed.
“Boys could use a little bit of help in growing up and not being jerks,” he said.
Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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