British Columbia

Kamloops library hosts drag queen story hour

The Kamloops library hosted its first drag queen story time during the city's Pride Week.

'Spaces for LGBT kids is really needed in our community'

After reading diversity-themed stories, Kamloops drag queen Willow Reeed played dressup and sang songs with kids at the Kamloops library on Aug. 23. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

A colourful guest made her first appearance at a Kamloops library on Thursday, at a special Pride Week edition of storytime for children.

More than 50 people showed up to hear Willow Reeed, a local drag queen, present three diversity-themed stories: Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, Not Every Princess by Jeffrey and Lisa Bone, and the fan favourite Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sim.

"I learned that it was really OK to be different and that it's actually pretty fun," 10-year-old Maeve Solomon told CBC's Jenifer Norwell.  

"I like the drag queen, I liked all the costumes," said seven-year-old Mason Foster.

"I like that he wanted the different animals to be together."

Mason Foster, 7, and his mother Alanna Foster stopped by the Kamloops downtown library for the first drag queen story hour during Kamloops Pride Week. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Reeed said she was happy she could provide something new for those in attendance, and felt like she learned a lot from the kids, too.

"Some of the kids were hesitant but I think that's part of life," she said.

"Not a lot of these kids have seen a drag queen, not a lot of people in this city have seen a drag queen, so it takes a bit for them to focus and take it all in.

"My favourite part was for them to know that it's OK. If they want to walk down the street wearing a tail, or if they want to wear a dress and they're a boy, that's fine. If they want to be a little girl in a pantsuit then live your truth."

Reeed approached the library with the idea only a week prior to the event, and youth services librarian Meghan Ross jumped at the opportunity.

"The goal of our storytime ... is just talking about diversity and acceptance and being yourself and being happy with who you are," she said.

Similar events have been held across North America, including in Vancouver, Edmonton, Charlottetown and London, Ont.

Willow Reeed stopped by the Kamloops downtown library to read and sing with children during Kamloops Pride week. 0:52

Ross is optimistic that drag queen storytime will return in the future. One mother, who took her child out of daycare to attend the reading, wants to see it happen as frequently as possible.

"Spaces for LGBT kids is really needed in our community," said Martha Solomon.

Alanna Mason, who brought her two children to the library, said she's happy to see children being included in Pride Week activities.

"We read a lot of stories about diversity and talk about it a lot, but it's really important to walk in and be a part of it," she said.

'Not a lot of these kids have seen a drag queen, not a lot of people in this city have seen a drag queen, so it takes a bit for them to focus and take it all in. ... My favourite part was for them to know that it's OK,' Reeed said. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

With files from Jenifer Norwell​

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