Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is exactly as awesome as it sounds: fabulous drag queens reading picture books to children. It was conceived in San Francisco (naturally) by RADAR Productions, and soon spread to New York City. Now events are popping up all over the globe.
I'm a lesbian mom, so I cheered from the sidelines as DQSH earned praise and attention in major markets like The New York Times. And I cried happy tears watching this video from NowThis go viral on Facebook:
But I didn't take my own kids. I knew my 4-year-old twin boys, who both have autism, would be overwhelmed by the huge crowds and wouldn't connect with many of the more abstract books they chose. And I worried about people not being understanding if one of my kids had a meltdown or behaved oddly.
Since the organizer of DQSH in New York City is one of my oldest friends, Rachel Aimee, I explained all of this, and she really listened. Over the summer, she and I collaborated with the New York Public Library to hold a Drag Queen Story Hour event specially for children with autism and other special needs.
It's happening!! Here are the event details:
I'm really, really excited about this.
So here's my pitch to NYC-area families with young ASD children who are still anxiety-ridden...
(1) The drag queens are all very eager to make DQSH accessible for kids with special needs. A group of regular performers for DQSH are attending a training at my son Luke's school, The Manhattan Behavioral Center, to learn more about autism and get tips on how to connect to our kids and react to behaviors they might encounter.
(2) Our events will be be much smaller than DQSH usually is. We are capping each story hour session at 15 children and requiring pre-registration.
(3) This event will be a safe space for special needs families. It is exclusively for children with autism and other special needs, their siblings, and families and/or therapists.
(4) I picked amazing books! Our first event features three Halloween season gems: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, and a classic Eric Carle title, The Very Busy Spider. Now that you know what we're reading, you can practice with your child in advance. If you don't have time to pick up the books, Room on the Broom was made into an animated short that is streaming on Netflix, and the other two books are easily findable as read-alongs on YouTube. Don't think of it as screen time. Think of it as making three stories familiar so that your child can do the most bookish thing of all: attend a library reading.
(5) We have a fun, guided craft project (making monster faces!) and a sensory movement activity (climbing through spider webs!), which tie into two of the books.
(6) The NYPL prepared a social story you can read to your child before you come so they know exactly what to expect.
See you there?