Suggested Age: Read-aloud to Kindergarten- Grade 4, Independent reading for Grades 2 and up
Submitted by Lori Bruner Okamura, School Librarian, Hongwanji Mission School
Book: Kamishibai Man by Allen Say
Jiichan (Grandpa) decides to ride his bicycle that carries a wooden theater box of stories and Japanese sweets to town. Many years have passed since he last clacked his wooden clappers to gather the children. Jiichan remembers the old days when he would tell his stories and show the pictures to young children and gets a surprise as he tells his stories again.
Kamishibai or Puppet Theater preceded television which was called denki (electric) kamishibai in the 1950s. Japanese storytelling; puppet theater; storyboards; advent of television; manga and anime.
- Read the story together. Notice the details of Japan and Japanese culture in the illustrations and narrative. How did the city change over time?
- Compare Jiichan’s home, the countryside and the crowded city to places in Hawaii. What looks the same? How are Japan and Hawaii different?
- Ask your child: How do you feel when the children stop listening to Jiichan’s stories? Why do they not want to listen to his kamishibai? How is kamishibai better and worse than watching TV? How is kamishibai like a story book? How is it different?
- Make your own kamishibai using sheets of paper to illustrate the beginning, middle and end of the story. Add extra sheets of drawings to show important parts of your story. Number the pages in the back to keep them in order. Now, re-tell your story aloud using the sheets of paper for the illustrations.
- Visit Japanese Culture Center and Honolulu Museum of Art. Ask to see their examples of kamishibai.
- Make a digital kamishibai. Find images or draw your own story pages. Write down the story and record the script as you read aloud to accompany your illustrations.