WOODSIDE, Queens — There was a larger than life guest reader at story time inside the Woodside branch of the Queens Public Library Wednesday afternoon.
She stands well over 6 feet tall in heels and wears a shiny purple and black dress.
Nearly 50 children from babies to 10 year olds were captivated by Miss Harmonica Sunbeam, a drag queen!
“Kids are drawn to shiny things colorful things," Miss Harmonica said. "Even if I don’t get their attention with the story, I get their attention with the outfit. I think it also creates conversion with kids and their parents even after story time is over."
“Drag Queen Story Hour” started in San Francisco in 2015 and spread to other cities. Advocates say its opening children to gender diversity and acceptance early on and letting them know its ok to be different.
“They get to see someone who’s dressed in their own way and comfortable with themselves and I think kids can really relate to that,” Woodside children’s librarian Mary Jacobi said.
But Drag Queen Story Hour has sparked a fiery debate in some cities - critics say its opening a discussion with kids parents say they’re not ready for.
Miss Harmonica has a different take on the lesson kids learn.
“It’s ok to be different and accept others just how they are,” Miss Harmonica said.
Here in Woodside, story time also includes crafts and singing songs like children’s classic “The Wheels on the Bus.”
The response was largely positive.
Wednesday’s event at Woodside library is part of a month-long series. There will be Drag Queen Story Hour at other library branches in Queens.