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What to expect at New West’s drag storytime?

Drag queens Karmella Barr and Beardney Spears will read out from books that explore social issues in a child-friendly way at New Westminster Public Library’s storytime event on Aug. 11.

What is it like to be a refugee? Drag queen and YouTuber Beardney Spears will gently explore this topic at this week's New West Pride storytime event on Aug. 11. 

“I was a refugee myself who fled my hometown because of my sexual orientation and the law against it back in Iran,” said Spears.

As mentioned in their bio, on Vancouver Pride website, Spears was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is of Iranian nationality. “Living in both UAE and Iran was not a safe experience for me as I grew up in a religious family,” reads the bio.

They had fled to Turkey at the age of 24, with just a suitcase. 

Spears knows what it is to be a refugee. And, at their first time being part of a storytime event, they plan to read from the award-winning children’s book My Name is Not Refugee, by Kate Milner.

“I would love to connect with kids and answer questions about being a refugee and a drag queen,” said Spears, who was recently part of the Vancouver Pride Parade.

Spears, who moved to Canada four years ago, volunteers with the Rainbow Refugee Society that helps LGBTQ+ refugees to resettle in Canada. They believe that events such as the drag storytime are important to “break the stigma about drag queens and queer culture.” 

Storytime is a starting point to discuss deep social issues

Meanwhile, Karmella Barr, who has been doing shows in Vancouver for seven years now, will read out from the A Kid’s Book About children’s book series. The series is designed to help start important conversations about topics such as racism, empathy, belonging, feminism, depression, disabilities, shame and more, among children.

“I love that series because it helps give an access point to tackle these issues, and it also gives the parents (adults in the kids’ life) a great starting point to explore these concepts further,” said Barr.

About the book series, Barr added, “I wish I had it when I was younger. I really appreciated books about love and celebrating new people, as a kid.” 

“Our childhood books were very different,” said Spears. “But collectively, they had one of the most important impacts on me when I was a child and shaped who I am today.”

Both Barr and Spears, who are part of the Storytelling with Drag Queens Foundation, are hoping to get a ton of questions from kids and adults at the New West Pride storytime event on Aug. 11, between 11 and 11:30 a.m., at the New Westminster Public Library main branch auditorium, 716 Sixth Ave. To register, call 604-527-4677 or send an email to [email protected]