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Lawrence Public Library hosts ‘Deja’s Reading Rainbow’ with message of inclusivity

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Excitement and laughter fill the auditorium inside the Lawrence Public Library on Sunday afternoon. Children of all ages are enjoying a weekly story hour. But this week’s story time, unlike most others, is not hosted by a librarian. Instead, It’s led by Miss Deja Brooks.

“ It's really about just putting on a face and becoming a character and providing a good time for all ages,” said Brooks.

Dressed in drag, Brandon Eisman, also known as Ms. Deja, read four short books to a packed house of parents, kids and teens.

“The stories that we read today are truly about love, making a new friend, and being who you are and being comfortable about who you are,” Brooks explained.

It's a message that resonated with many families who stayed after the event to meet Miss Deja and to thank library staff members for hosting the event.

“We had heard about the drag queen story time starting in Brooklyn and San Francisco, and there was nothing like it in our area so we try to provide that service to people in Lawrence,” said Matthew Lord, Youth Services Assistant at the Lawrence Public Library.

Some parents are thrilled to see something like this in their community.

“I think it`s incredibly important to raise socially aware children, especially with the political climate in our country. I think it`s a necessity as a parent to expose your children to as much difference from you as possible,” said Heddy Pierce.

Organizers hope this event sparks important conversations and encourages positive dialogue among families.

“I think kids today just need to learn more about asking questions. That helps them open their minds as well as parents, or grandparents or whoever they live with. It's just about asking those questions and really opening your minds to new things,” said Brooks.

Most story hour`s at the library have an average attendance of about 30 people. Library administrators say 157 people attended this one.

Library staff members say they’ve received a minimal amount of push back or negativity about this event. They plan to host similar events periodically in the future.