14;MARCH ;;;; NJMONTHLY.COM
Stories, With Sparkles
wig aglow, Harmonica
preschoolers at a recent Drag
Drag queens (yes, drag queens) promote diversity to preschoolers.
;;;;; ;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;;;; clustered
around the stage in Montclair Public
Library’s auditorium recently, patiently
awaiting storytime. Their faces lit up
when a figure swooped in wearing a
fluorescent wig and a floor-length gown
dripping with sequins.
“Hello!” gushed Harmonica Sunbeam.
“Did you all come straight from Zumba?”
With preschoolers and parents still
chuckling, Sunbeam led everyone in the
ABCs before getting down to the busi-
ness at hand: reading children’s stories
that expose youngsters to themes of
diversity and acceptance.
Two years ago, Sunbeam began
Sunbeam, who lives in Jersey City,
reading to New York City preschoolers
through Drag Queen Story Hour, a na-
tional network formed in San Francisco
in ;;;;. DQSH now has ;; chapters.
started the North New Jersey chapter.
“I thought that there must be people
in New Jersey that are open-minded
and ready for something like this,” she
tells New Jersey Monthly. So far, she
has three other potential members.
During storytime, Sunbeam read
several crowd-pleasers, including Neither
by New Jersey author Airlie Anderson,
about a half-bird, half-bunny who wasn’t
accepted by either birds or bunnies.
“Has there ever been a time when
someone wouldn’t allow you to play with
them?” Sunbeam asked her audience.
“Yeah,” came the enthusiastic reply.
“How did it make you feel?” she
asked. The answer: “Sad.”
By the book’s end, the bird-bunny
found acceptance. Sunbeam explained,
“They’re saying that you can fit in—be-
cause everyone is di;erent.”
Sunbeam enjoys engaging preschool-
ers this way. “I get very emotional at
each event,” she says. “It’s a great feeling
to see all the smiling faces.”
Parents appreciate Sunbeam’s mes-
sage. “I want to expose them to every-
thing,” says Montclair resident Kara
Mohren, ;;, of her ;-year-old twins. “I
just want them to see love.”
Next up for Sunbeam: DQSH read-
ings at Word Bookstore in Jersey City,
March ;; and April ;;. —Lisa Fields PH