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December 14, 2023

Slaying stereotypes, igniting imaginations: Drag Story Hour’s magical impact on young readers

Step into a world where storytelling becomes a vibrant tapestry of imagination, where every word is woven with flair, enthusiasm, and perfect timing. Picture a storyteller who doesn’t just read a tale but brings it to life with a touch of drama, a dash of charisma, and an infectious energy that captivates the young minds gathered around. The magic of storytelling lies not just in the words on a page but in the artistry of the storyteller. To be a masterful narrator requires a unique set of skills – an innate sense of the dramatic, a boundless enthusiasm for the narrative, and the ability to keep an audience hanging on every word. 

Now, imagine the perfect storytellers, individuals who embody these characteristics effortlessly – drag queens. In the enchanting realm of drag, where self-expression knows no bounds, drag queens emerge as the ideal conduits for the transformative power of storytelling. With their flair for the dramatic, infectious enthusiasm, and impeccable timing, drag queens create a storytelling experience that not only engages young listeners, but leaves an indelible mark on their eager minds. One such trailblazing storyteller is Pickle (@picklethedragqueen), the first Drag Laureate of the City of West Hollywood and the leader of the LA Chapter of Drag Story Hour.

pickle reads to a group of kids at drag story hour

The definition of drag

But first, what is drag, and who are drag queens? The Human Rights Campaign defines drag as “…a performance art that uses costumes, makeup, and other tools to present exaggerated forms of gender expression to critique inequalities and imagine a transformational future where people are truly free in how they express themselves.” 

Drag performers engage in myriad activities, from dressing up and performing to participating in parades and contributing to their communities. Within the diverse realm of drag, one encounters not only drag queens but also drag kings, drag princes, and drag princesses, each free to explore and embody various personas regardless of their everyday identities. The essence of drag lies in the comfort and creativity one feels when adorned in the fabulous garments of self-discovery.

pickle and another drag queen pose next to a child wearing a shirt that says "protect trans kids"

The power of Drag Story Hour

In the often separate realms of drag and childhood, Drag Story Hour emerges as a transformative bridge, playfully dismantling barriers and fostering understanding in age-appropriate ways. Pickle shared that “the original organizers of Drag Story Hour approached me to do the first LA reading back in 2017. I fell in love with the program and started participating more frequently until eventually, I started leading the LA chapter in 2018.” 

These events, designed with children in mind, extend beyond mere entertainment, offering valuable lessons in empathy, gender diversity, and the celebration of differences. Drag Story Hour becomes a powerful tool for nurturing creativity in young minds, breaking down stereotypes, and creating an inclusive space where all children, including LGBTQ+ kids and teens, those with LGBTQ+ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different, can see themselves reflected and celebrated. 

Story hours play a pivotal role in igniting a lifelong passion for books and reading in children. Through engaging narratives and interactive sessions, young minds are introduced to the enchanting world of literature, fostering a love for storytelling. These positive early experiences with books not only enhance language skills but also cultivate a vivid imagination and a thirst for knowledge. The exposure to diverse narratives during story hours lays the foundation for a lifelong appreciation of literature, creating a pathway for intellectual growth and a lasting love for reading.

For example, Pickle highlighted that, “I’ve had moments where a parent will share with me that their boys feel safe wearing dresses for the first time or dressing up at story hour. I think that’s meaningful both to me and them.” In this intersection of drag and childhood, Drag Story Hour becomes not only entertaining but also a potentially life-changing and life-saving experience.

pickle reads to a group of kids during drag story hour

Sharing Drag Story Hour with your young readers

Reflecting on the impact of Drag Story Hour on children, Pickle states, “I don’t have specific goals when it comes to the kids – they just want to enjoy the stories, and that’s where my expectations end. I’m there to entertain and to provide a safe space for expression and reading.” 

For those interested in supporting or getting involved, Pickle invites everyone to visit, and if you’re a parent, wondering if Drag Story Hour is right for your child, Pickle reminds you to “…not to overthink it. Follow your impulses that are guided by compassion and hope for a better world for your kids. Continue to seek out communities of parents that champion love and acceptance.”

In the enchanting fusion of drag and childhood, Drag Story Hour becomes a celebration of diversity, an avenue for fostering inclusivity, and a magical experience where every child can see themselves reflected and celebrated.

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