Yumi izuyama

Kamishibai has magical effect on chidlren. As a child my heart beat faster everytime I saw the little doors of the kamiashibai stage open.


As a daughter of Japanese immigrants to Brazil, I grew up with my Japanese grandmother telling me Japanese folktales and reading picture books to me every night. Every time I would climb into bed, I wondered what was going to be the story of that night. Will it be about a mischievous raccoon, a clever fox or mice singing and dancing? Thanks to her, I became an avid reader. Nothing gives me more pleasure than reading good literature and especially good children’s literature.

After working for a publisher for 20 years writing and developing English language materials for children and support materials for parents, I decided to go back to the world my grandmother opened up to me when I was a little girl—the world of folktales. I now create kamishibai (paper theater) stories for children using folktales from around the world.

These kamishibai stories have multiple use. They are the center-piece of a literacy project in Brazil that promotes language and literacy skills. They are part of the storytelling time told in creole in a remote school in Haiti. And they are what I use to tell stories in the greater Boston area in Massachusetts at day-care centers, schools, libraries and other places and occasions that would welcome a kamishibai presenation, for instance, literacy events and cultural festivals.

Being a second generation Japanese Brazilian, I like to focus on the diverse culture of our world. I also like to help children understand that, even though we might have different habits and customs, we share similar emotions, desires and yearnings. Our common humanity transcends our differences.

During storytelling, I like to engage children in the narrative of the story, by having them answer different types of open ended and yes/no questions, complete sentences, guess what is going to happen next, recall what has happened already, etc, etc., so as to help develop their language and literacy skills. In one visit, I usually tell two stories and, if there is interest, do with the children a simple arts and crafts activity, such as origami, related to the story.

Kamishibai is a time-tested powerful tool that I feel very fortunate to share with children from different continents. It gives me tremendous joy to see their eyes shine in anticipation when I’m opening the little doors of the wooden stage at the start of storytelling.

What I do.


[dropcap]1[/dropcap] I present folktales from around the world using kamishibai. Through these stories children are exposed to different cultures and learn that regardless of external appearances or customs, our emotions, needs and desires are not different. As a daughter of immigrants I like to remind us of our share common humanity through stories. I also like to do manual activities related to the stories presented. These activities can have STEAM content.


[dropcap]2[/dropcap]I teach both children and adults, including teachers, the history of kamishibai and how they can make their own kamishibai. Kamishibai making is a great language and arts activity especially for children. It can stimulate their imagination, develop their writing and drawing as well as oral presentation skills, while doing a fun activity. I have also worked with seniors so they can create kamishibai stories of their lives and family history.


[dropcap]3[/dropcap] I draw and write my own kamishibai stories mainly using folktales from around the world. You can see the list of the stories on the "kamishibai stories" page. If you wish to acquire one of the stories, do not hesitate to contact me.