Central Coast Council Library Service has unveiled its new look Spring School Holiday program, with a range of fun online and at home activities on offer.
With no in-branch activities able to proceed due to the pandemic, the Library Service team has ensured that the fun can continue online, with a handful of upcoming programs to include pre-packaged activity kits to spark creativity, adventure and learning at home.
From a do it yourself backyard spring explorer kit to video sessions with Sweet Valley Baby Animal Farm, there’s a program to appeal to all interests.
And in a first for Council, the program will welcome drag queen, Joyce Maynge, to host its inaugural drag story time events.
Exactly as it sounds, drag story time events feature drag artists reading to children.
The stories chosen are often themed around diversity, acceptance and inclusion, with the overarching theme to teach children about the importance of being true to yourself while being compassionate and respectful towards others, because everyone is different.
A member of Naughty Noodle Fun Haus’s ever growing Creative Collective and a long time supporter and participant of drag story time, Maynge said she was honoured to be the first drag artist to work with council to deliver drag story time on the Coast.
“After reading picture books at dozens of different childcare centres, festivals, children’s parties and circuses, I feel very honoured that an Albion Park Rail superstar like myself would be invited to share some Joyce joy with the Central Coast,” she said.
Fans of the self described teacher -librarian may remember Maynge from last year’s Coastal Twist Festival.
Maynge was brought in to host the festival’s own drag story time and wholeheartedly believes in the message behind the movement.
“The goal of drag story time is to inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others.
“Diverse and inclusive communities are created and forged by showing a wide range of voices to better reflect our vibrant and diverse community.
“The more LGBTIQ, disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, or any marginalised people’s visibility and representation there is in a community, the stronger the connections that people will have within that community.
“So, when anyone with diverse sexuality and/or gender feels respected, valued, and empowered, then this will have a positive impact on the entire community and beyond,” Maynge said.
“For me, reading picture books to families is the perfect nexus between curating, entertaining and educating ankle biters about the themes and rich visual literacy embedded into quality Australian texts.
“Australian picture books unlock our history, they talk about our flora and fauna, our cultural diversity and identity, all while there is playful humour which makes them so enjoyable for the whole family.
“Unpacking the themes and concepts within the books is probably the most important aspect of the event.
“And although I may be the most colourful, clownie, creature in the world, which can be distracting and a little off-putting to many people, as soon as I start reading, bat the lashes, and read the book title, there is a remarkable willingness for individuals to suspend their belief for a good story.
“Storytelling can have a butterfly effect, a good story must be shared, cherished, and shared again,” Maynge said.
The event also provides a segue for important conversations between children and their families on gender and sexuality, and while some parts of the country have opposed the inclusion of drag story time events at libraries and other community spaces, Maynge said that she had always felt welcomed during her visits to the Central Coast.
“Creating a socially equitable society with basic human rights is a multi-dimensional process, creating conditions which enable full and active participation of every member of society in all aspects of life, including civic, social and economic activities.
“That’s how we prevent and address exclusion, and fight all the forms of discrimination leading to exclusion,” Maynge said.
“Storytime with Joyce Maynge is for families that want their little cherubs entirely engaged and totally engrossed in the magical world of books.
“My message to everyone is to bring a cushion and settle into a wonderfully entertaining session.”
Council confirmed, via a statement, that Joyce’s Storytime would be a first in the Library Service’s programming delivered in partnership with the Community Education section.
“Central Coast Council is delighted to host its first drag story time sessions.
“These events and the stories read within them encourage respect and equity for everyone who is a member of the Central Coast Community.
“Council feels that these sessions offer an opportunity to connect with many different groups within our community and start a dialogue within families about individuality and inclusiveness.
“The books selected would be part of any library’s collection and will be part of our Storytime sessions, which include dressing up,” the statement reads.