Yas queen! Brooklyn Public Library hosts virtual Drag Queen Story Hour

Miz Jade read four picture books during the Brooklyn Public Library virtual Drag Queen Story Hour on April 14.
Miz Jade

You betta werk (from home)!

The Brooklyn Public Library has moved its popular Drag Queen Story Hour programming online, and its latest installation saw more than 40 Kings County kids tune in from home to hear their favorite drag queen read picture books and sing songs.

The story hour was really cute,” said Miz Jade, who hosted an online reading on April 14, and has participated in the beloved library tradition for almost two years. 

Drag Queen Story Hour, which the Brooklyn Public Library has hosted since 2016, typically features readings about identity and acceptance, which the queens read to children between the ages of 4 and 10. The hour-and-a-half event also includes music and activities to keep youngsters engaged, Miz Jade said.

During Tuesday’s event — one the library’s first online story hours since its coronavirus-related closure — Miz Jade took to Instagram Live to read four books. First came “The Dragtivity Book,” a guide that helps parents talk to kids about gender expression and drag, followed by “Maybe Something Beautiful,” a picture book about letting artistry flow freely, and “The Princess and the Pony,” the story of a princess who wants to be a warrior, but receives a pony instead.

The final book, about a crayon who is labeled “red” but feels it is the color blue, was Miz Jade’s favorite, she said.

“No matter what it does, the other crayons say, ‘No, you should be like this, I can fix you,'” she explained, adding that the book, called “Red, a Crayon Story,” made her tear up when she first read it. “At the end, it realizes that it is blue.”

Miz Jade also sang songs, including “The Heels of a Drag Queen” to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus,” and a well-timed ode to hand-washing during the virtual read-aloud. 

Adjusting to an online format has had its challenges, Miz Jade said. Rather than spanning its full hour and a half, the event has had to be cut down to one hour, since Instagram Live only allows for 60-minute broadcasts. The library has also had to turn off comments after trolls spammed the feeds of recent read-alongs.

The show’s star said it was strange singing by herself for an hour and reading aloud without knowing if anyone at home was watching. 

It was hard doing it in that way because it’s hard knowing what’s on the other side of the camera,” Miz Jade said.

Despite the hiccups, the online story times have been a success, and the program’s spirit has not changed.

The highlight of the event — whatever its format — is the safe space it creates, Miz Jade said.

“My favorite part is hopefully creating a space of comfort for people,” she said. “When we’re not stunted by critiques and expectations and rules, we’re able to grow into healthy adults.