Drag queen to read to chil­dren in Soweto to cel­e­brate Youth Month

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA

CHILD­HOOD is a sig­nif­i­cant phase for young­sters to de­velop their think­ing pro­cesses as well as their morals, be­liefs and val­ues.

For this rea­son, and in a bid to cel­e­brate Youth Month and gen­der equal­ity, an ac­claimed drag queen will read to chil­dren in Soweto this week­end.

The story hour, which will be con­ducted by for­mer Idols SA con­tes­tant Thiart Li, as his al­ter ego Shenay O’brien, is a first for South Africa.

Or­gan­is­ers say the event, which is part of the Nal’ibali read­ing-for-en­joy­ment cam­paign, is also to pro­mote the love for books, as chil­dren from two lo­cal read­ing groups will be en­ter­tained by Li’s per­for­mance.

This in­cludes two Nal’ibali read­ing club groups which will read Roald Dahl’s Matilda at the Ik­a­geng Aus­trian Em­bassy Li­brary to­mor­row.

Righardt le Roux, the Nal’ibali pro­vin­cial sup­port co-or­di­na­tor, said the event would ben­e­fit the chil­dren.

“Cap­tur­ing the imag­i­na­tion of chil­dren, and work­ing to­wards a more just so­ci­ety that recog­nises and ac­cepts gen­der flu­id­ity dur­ing child­hood, the Nal’ibali read­ing-for-en­joy­ment cam­paign will be host­ing South Africa’s first drag queen story hour.

“The pro­gramme is just as it sounds: an en­gag­ing drag queen read­ing sto­ries to chil­dren in a li­brary. It’s a re­sponse to sim­i­lar ac­ti­va­tions which have been tak­ing place in the US with great suc­cess.”

He said the chil­dren would have the op­por­tu­nity to chal­lenge so­ci­etal norms.

“Dur­ing th­ese story hours, chil­dren get the chance to see adult read­ing role mod­els defy rigid gen­der re­stric­tions, and are in­vited to imag­ine a world in which all peo­ple are truly equal, and ac­cepted for who they are.”

Le Roux said the ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme also aimed to im­prove English pro­fi­ciency from a young age, which is in line with global stan­dards.

But, he said, above all, the pro­gramme was aimed at pro­mot­ing equal­ity.

“The UN Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goal num­ber five high­lights and pro­motes the need for gen­der equal­ity, stat­ing it’s not only a fun­da­men­tal hu­man right but a nec­es­sary foun­da­tion for a peace­ful, pros­per­ous and sus­tain­able world.”

Le Roux said the rea­son why Matilda would be read was be­cause of the in­spi­ra­tional con­tent.

“It fea­tures a young girl who escapes her un­bear­able en­vi­ron­ment by teach­ing her­self to read and tak­ing refuge in her school’s li­brary.”

As the youth are cel­e­brated in June, the event also aims to com­mem­o­rate the oc­ca­sion.

Thiart Li

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