Three Wokingham Borough libraries will host a nationally acclaimed drag performer during fun and interactive storytellings later this month.
Drag Queen Story Hour UK aims to promote diversity and acceptance, as well as encouraging more families to attend their local library.
Free story hours will be on offer on Wednesday 24 August for families with children aged four and over at Wokingham Library (11am), Woodley Library (1pm) and Lower Earley Library (3pm).
Places must be booked at the appropriate branch and attendees must have a valid library card when bookings are made.
Part of a diverse schedule of events
Cllr Sarah Kerr, the new executive member for climate emergency and resident services, said: “We are very fortunate to be able to host Drag Queen Story Hour UK at three of our libraries.
"Parents who have attended performances by this established children’s entertainment company have shared positive feedback about the event, as well as its suitability for younger audiences.
“We absolutely share the principles that this company stands for: to promote diversity and inclusion, to encourage children and young people to read books and for families to visit their local library. Through our fantastic libraries, we always aim to offer a varied and diverse programme of events and activities.”
Travelling the UK to promote acceptance
Wokingham Borough is the penultimate stop on the company’s ‘100 Libraries in 100 Days’ summer tour, which has already seen visits to Reading, Oxfordshire, Bristol and Cardiff.
Drag Queen Story Hour UK aims to show audiences that being different is a good thing and to provide imaginative role models for children. The company started out with just one performer, but now has multiple acts appearing across the UK at schools, nurseries, festivals and museums.
Founder, Aida H Dee, is a patron of Autistic Inclusive Meets London, a professional author and five-star Edinburgh Fringe act, and has featured on Forbes Magazine for being an activist for neurodivergence.
Aida said: “When I was a child, I had no role model I could have related to. It felt like I was the only queer person on the planet.
"This tour is not just about having fun and dressing up, it’s about ensuring that anybody who feels different knows that being different is not just something to be accepted, it is something to be loved. I will be reading my own published children’s books about queer goats and lesbian hedgehogs.”
A full list of events taking place at libraries across the borough is available online.
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Frequently asked questions about this event
Suitability for young children
All events that we host are given careful consideration and we aim to offer a varied programme of activities. DQSH UK have performed across the UK with more than 20 other library authorities booking the same company this summer. These include Reading, Oxfordshire, Bristol and Cardiff.
The nature of the event has been clearly advertised. This allows parents to make an informed decision as to whether they feel it is right for their child. We believe it will attract those parents who feel comfortable and positive about the event.
The session is aimed at families with children aged four to ten. Parents who have attended previous performances at other libraries in the country have shared very positive feedback, not only about the event, but also its suitability for younger audiences.
Does the company have a political agenda
No. The company does not have a political agenda and is not associated with the American equivalent.
Concerns about event being sexualised
The event is not sexualised and is appropriate for children. It is run as a theatre/pantomime format of storytelling, which will be fun, playful and celebrate diversity.
The performer sings nursery rhymes and reads storybooks that deal with topics such as bullying, being empathetic and accepting each other. The performer will interact with the children in a positive and engaging way.
As with all our theatre style events for children, we will have safeguarding measures in place. Parents will stay with their children throughout the performance and there will always be a member of staff present. All our staff have undertaken safeguarding training and no photographs will be taken without parental consent. The performer also has a valid DBS check, which has been shared with the library service ahead of the event.
Promoting equality more generally
Promoting equality and diversity is something we do regularly in our libraries service and across the council. This includes displays, promotions and events supporting:
- Mental Health
- Black History Month
- Windrush Day
- LGBT History Month
- Women’s History Month
- Autism Awareness Week
- Dementia Action Week
- National Inclusion Week
- Men’s Health Awareness Month