The Library Channel: news, events, announcements

Librarian’s story hour is about inclusion

Michelle Miranda-Thorstad doesn’t remember exactly how she discovered Drag Queen Story Hour, but she recalls having an immediate interest in it.

At the time, she worked for the Maricopa County Library District, where together with Christopher Jay Hall, or Miss Nature, she facilitated her very first edition of the Drag Queen Story Hour in a privately rented room in the library. 

“We did a small story hour and got just two families there,” said Miranda-Thorstad. “One of our little guests came in full costume, walked in and said, ‘I’m a princess.’ The amount of confidence was just so great for such a little person.” 

Miranda-Thorstad is a Senior Library Specialist with the ASU Library who spends much of her time outside of her full-time job working to support and advance LGBTQ+ families in the Phoenix area.

Originally launched in San Francisco in 2015 by Michelle Tea of Radar Productions, Drag Queen Story Hour is now an official nonprofit organization inspiring and supporting more inclusive children’s story hours around the country – all led by drag queens and kings. 

Despite Miranda-Thorstad’s early interest in the story hour, she wouldn't begin regularly hosting one for another two years, after joining forces with David Boyles, an Instructor in the ASU English Department, who specializes in popular culture, digital literacy and visual rhetoric.

She met Boyles at a training offered through the GLSEN Network, a nonprofit organization that works with schools to make them safer places for students in the LGBTQ+ community, and the two began working together. 

In February 2019, Drag Story Hour - Arizona was born. (Check out their Facebook page.)  

“Working with Michelle on Drag Story Hour - Arizona has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Boyles. “The community has given us a great response and it's shown the need for this type of event. We need more events and programming that are aimed at our LGBTQ+ youth and families, and make them feel seen and included.”

Their first story hour event was held at the Downtown Chandler Public Library, where Boyles visited frequently as a child.

“Doing our first event at the Downtown Chandler Public Library was very emotional for me because that is the library I grew up going to and it meant a lot to me to be able to bring this event to that space,” he said. “And it was made even more special because my friends from the Arizona Clinic Defense Force showed up to make sure our guests were safe.”

Since February, Boyles and Miranda-Thorstad have hosted four story hours. Board members of Drag Story Hour Arizona are Edie Lopez, Lenore Filipczuk and Christopher Jay Hall.

“About 57 people attended the first event. I was just amazed,” said Miranda-Thorstad.

Drag Queen Story Hour aims to capture “the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood, and gives kids glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.” 

“The story hour is all about inclusion,” says Miranda-Thorstad. “It’s about creating a safe space for same-sex families. We try to be as gender non-conforming as possible. Phoenix needs programs like this. It’s my hope that the story hours will one day live at public libraries.” 

The next event for Drag Story Hour is Sunday, June 2, as part of a fundraiser by Haircuts for Humans at Public Image to benefit the Arizona Trans Youth and Parent Organization. 

Looking for some inclusive books for children? Here are a few that Michelle Miranda-Thorstad recommends:  

And Tango Makes Three

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous

Sparkle Boy

Worm Loves Worm

Donovan’s Big Day 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo