MADISON, Wis. — A southern Wisconsin library has invited a drag queen to read stories to children, replicating a trend that began at a library in San Francisco.
Pinney Library in Madison started Drag Queen Storytime earlier this summer, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . Miss Gretta, played by Craig Schlagel, reads a book, and then the kids participate in a sing-along.
Library assistant Danny Atwater said children can relate to drag queens because they often play dress up.
Schlagel said children are sometimes hesitant when meeting their first drag queen but that he presents a nicer version of his drag persona to the children.
“It’s kind of like children interacting with clowns,” Schlagel said. “You never know what’s gonna go on because it’s like a person in a costume, but they aren’t exactly sure how to interact with them.”
Youth services librarian Holly Storck-Post said the event doesn’t define what a drag queen is and tries to normalize different gender expressions.
“I think that a lot of the kids who were in attendance had no idea what a drag queen was, maybe didn’t even know that this was a drag queen story time,” Storck-Post said. “They just knew that this was a special, fun storytime at the library.”
Schlagel said when kids ask if he’s a boy or a girl, he explains that he’s a boy that dresses up as a girl to entertain people.
“Saying that to a child is so much easier than interacting with an adult who has more of a closed mind,” he said.
Beth Myers said she brought her two children to the event so they could learn that although everyone looks different, everyone is still worth loving.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org