Join the library for Read with a Queen

By Nicole Bannick, Camrose Canadian Lifestyles Contributor

Camrose Drag Queen Robyn Bank$ is hosting Read with a Queen on Aug. 8 from 1-2 p.m. at the Camrose Public Library. Supplied

Camrose Drag Queen Robyn Bank$ is hosting Read with a Queen on Aug. 8 from 1-2 p.m. at the Camrose Public Library. Supplied

Library story times are the foundation and backbone of library programs for children.


The first children’s library was created at the turn of the previous century, with story hours being introduced as early as 1896 at the Pratt Institute Free Library in Brooklyn. Since then, children’s story hours have become a mainstay of library services, and have metamorphosed to fill the needs of the library’s community, be they ESL story times or bilingual tales. Camrose Public Library hosts both day time and evening story hours throughout the week for a variety of age groups, and has done so for many years.

Following in the footsteps of our story time forbearers, Camrose Public Library will be featuring an upcoming, alternative story hour that will simultaneously be both a drag and not a drag: we are pleased to announce our inaugural session of Read with a Queen featuring Camrose’s own Robyn Bank$.

Drag Queen story hours have become the darling of the library world recently, with very successful programs running in large cities across Canada and the Unites States. The premise is simple: a drag queen story hour is a traditional library story time, with books, rhymes, songs, and finger-plays, but with a drag queen in the rocking chair instead of a librarian.

Our queen of the hour, Robyn Bank$, is the Drag persona of Camrose resident Zach Stevens.

Stevens has lived in Camrose for 10 years, and loves the community and its people. Zach is the owner and tattoo artist of Rebel Ink, and has been tattooing for almost five years. If you include Halloween costumes and the usual childhood dress-up play, Zach has been doing drag since he was a kid. His deep interest in drag as an adult was inspired by his love of the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race. Zach created his drag persona in the fall of 2015 and did his first show in March of 2016.

Since then, Robyn Bank$ has performed at Augustana Queers and Allies’ (AQUA) So You Think You Can Drag at the Bailey Theatre, and at the Camrose Pride Community’s All Ages Dance Party.

Zach is very excited to be a part of Read with a Queen.

In an email interview, he wrote, “I think it goes without saying that reading programs for kids are not only fantastic, but essential. Reading is so fundamental to everything we do every day, and if you can make it fun for kids then the sky is the limit. I think having a drag queen come and read to children is no different than having Barney come and read to children. We’re both dressed up in a costume, and we’re both reaching for the same goal, and that is to provide a safe and fun educational experience. Events like this one are great because it’s a chance to show and teach children that it’s okay to be different, and to be unique. I think my experience as a performer and an uncle of four is going to come in really handy because I know how to entertain a crowd, and I’m great with kids. So a crowd of kids should be no problem. Above anything else, I hope my audience at the library has fun, and if I can get a few laughs out of those kids then I’ve done my job. I hope they leave feeling inspired to do whatever makes them happy in life and to be their authentic selves.”

Young children often explore gender fluidity in their play, and Read with Queen hopes to not only inspire the imaginations of children and families, but to affirm that gender-based role playing is a normal and healthy form of creative expression, no matter your age.

People of all ages are invited to join Robyn Bank$ for Read with a Queen at Camrose Public Library on Aug. 8 from 1-2 p.m.

Nicole Bannick is the Program Coordinator of the Camrose Public Library. Outside of work, she enjoys time with her family, baking, comic-cons, and cheesy 16-bit role playing games. 

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