- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2022

Kirk Cameron may be even more popular than drag queens when it comes to children’s story hours at public libraries.

The actor drew an overflow crowd Thursday at the Indianapolis Public Library to hear him read “As You Grow,” his recently released Christian-themed storybook, after a squabble between the library and his publisher, Brave Books.

“Huge opening day success for this movement!” tweeted Brave Books.

Mr. Cameron was greeted by cheers and applause as he made an initial appearance in the main reading area, saying there were about 1,000 people on different floors who came out to hear him read.

“Thank you for coming and making this such a special event today,” Mr. Cameron said, as shown on video. “Find Brave Books. I’m sure there’s so many of them here at this library. Read them to your kids. God bless you and Happy New Year.”

Brave Books released photos showing fans lining up on the library steps even before the doors opened at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. reading.

Brave Books chief of staff Zac Bell estimated that there were at least 2,000 people in attendance, with 1,000 inside and another 1,000 outside.

Inside, patrons lined up alongside bookshelves for a chance to hear Mr. Cameron.

“Wow! What an incredible turnout!” tweeted Brave Books. “Thank you to everyone who gave up their morning to join us in Indianapolis! We are so humbled & thankful for your support!”

The illustrated book touched off a cultural battle earlier this month after Brave Books said 54 libraries rejected or ignored offers for appearances by Mr. Cameron, the former teen star of the ABC-TV sitcom “Growing Pains,” even though the libraries had previously hosted Drag Queen Story Hour events.

Mr. Cameron later announced that two library systems – the Indianapolis Public Library and Scarsdale Public Library in New York – had “changed their minds” under pressure, although the Indianapolis library denied it, saying he had always been welcome to rent a room and hold the event there.

The Indianapolis Public Library confirmed that a “large crowd” attended the reading in the sixth-floor meeting room, which holds 120-150 people, and that Mr. Cameron read the book twice to accommodate more visitors.

The library also said that Brave Books and Mr. Cameron were aware of the room’s capacity ahead of the event and did not ask for a larger space. The charge for the room was $200.

“We hope that anyone who books a library facility has a positive experience, and handled this event as we would for any other room rental,” the library said. “Many people who came to attend mentioned traveling from outside our service area.”

Mr. Cameron is scheduled to hold a reading Friday at the Scarsdale Public Library, and another reading Jan. 20 at the Central Kansas Christian Academy in Great Bend.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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