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 recently hosted South Africa’s first drag queen story hour with Thiart Li, performing as Shenay O’Brien, and children from two Nal’ibali reading clubs at Ikageng Austrian Embassy Library in Soweto on Saturday 24 June.
Thiart Li, aka Shenay O’Brien, entertaining whilst educating. During these story hours, children get the opportunity 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.
A youngster sits on Shenay’s lap with a copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda
in her hands. Li read from this beloved children’s book as means to address the locally identified issue of abuse in schools; in the novel Matilda escapes her unbearable environment by teaching herself to read and taking refuge in her school’s library.
The Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign works to spark the potential of all children through reading and storytelling in home languages as well English. Ja-nee, fun certainly was had by all!