Multnomah County Library hosts a successful series of Drag Queen Storytimes

Multnomah County Library branches celebrated pride this year with book displays, in-person activities, outreach events, and the special return of its popular Drag Queen Storytime events. 

Drag Queen Storytime is an event catered to kids ages 2-6 where a drag performer reads children's books and leads the kids in learning activities and sing-alongs. Similar events have been organized at libraries, bookstores and community centers nationwide. 

Famous Portland drag queen performers Poison Waters and Nicole Onoscopi read children’s books and delighted kids and families with learning activities and sing-alongs. Both performers have years of experience doing community outreach in Portland. Poison Waters was also one of the first drag queens to participate in Drag Queen Storytime at the library over eight years ago.

Reflecting on when the library first invited Poison Waters, she says, ”I've been a [Multnomah County Library] card holder my whole adult life and so I thought, ’well, this is the time to do it.’ I was so happy and you know, I would have the infrastructure and the support of the whole library system behind me. I knew it was going to be a success.”

Drag queen Poison Waters smiling at the camera with four books in her hands.

The books read by drag queens during Drag Queen Storytime touch on themes of gender identity, acceptance and diversity, including titles such as It‘s Ok To Be Different by Todd Parr, Annie‘s Plaid Shirt by Stacy B. Davids, and The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler.

“It's been really fantastic that so many of the books are recognizable to the kids. They already know them from school or church, or they have them in their own house,” said Poison Waters.

Although the activities are catered to kids, people of all ages attended the storytimes. Families listened to the stories, participated in arts and crafts and sang along to nursery rhymes like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Despite the challenges libraries faced when attempting to host drag queen storytimes throughout the country, Multnomah County Library successfully hosted this year‘s storytimes without major disruptions.

“Drag Storytime is an extremely family friendly event,” shared Maz S., a library patron.

I want my child to be exposed to an array of gender expressions in order to grow into a healthy sense of self. Drag Queens model self confidence, kindness, courage, creativity, and beauty in a way which is very theatrical and clever. They open up a world where children are free to love the uniqueness in themselves and others.
Maz S.

Drag Queen Storytime and the other various Pride events encourage attendees to bring their full selves and experience joy. 

The library remains committed to ensuring its spaces are welcoming for all community members, including LGBTQ+ individuals and families.