Kamishibai Man

kamishibaiIn the country, in modern Japan, a little old couple lives quietly. The man says he misses his “rounds” (we don’t know what they are) and his wife makes him some candies so he can go into town on his bicycle and repeat what he used to do. He bicycles through busy streets to where the park used to be and sets up a little theatre. He recalls to himself what it was like to entertain crowds of children with his Japanese tales until television came. Coming out of his reminiscence he sees a crowd has gathered to hear these traditional tales and he gives out the candy his wife made.

Allen Say, Houghton Mifflin, ©2005, ISBN 13:  978-0-618-47954-2

Make Your Own Kamishibai Man

Students could work in teams to design a story in 12–16 frames that acts as a kamishibai tale—either one students have created themselves, or one of the traditional Japanese tales.

If you don’t have time for illustration (as we never do), used picture books telling the story can be taken apart and mounted on card. If you raise the theatre, the English version the students have written can be printed on the back of the mounted pages, and then the story would be told in the style of an illustrated Reader’s Theatre.

There is lots of information at here and kamishibai stories may also be purchased online (ready to go).

Traditional Japanese Tales

The book mentions 4 traditional Japanese folktales that the kamishibai might have told:

  • Peach Boy
  • Inch Boy
  • Bamboo Princess
  • The Old Man Who Made Cherry Tree Bloom

Students could tell these stories (and other Japanese tales) as kamishibai or simply as part of oral skills development and general cultural knowledge.

For 4 writing ideas, click Kamishibai Man to download.


Library Mouse

library-mouseSam, the Library Mouse, lives in the reference section and reads all the genres in the school library. One day he decides to write his own miniature book – a biography. His next is a mystery, then a full chapter book. He sneaks them onto the shelves in the correct library section and slowly develops “fans”. The librarian invites him to do an author reading but Sam knows he can’t. He solves the problem by making a pile of blank miniature books. Then he wraps a Kleenex box with a sign saying, “Meet the Author”. When students look in, they see their own face in the mirror he placed in the box.

Daniel Kirk, Abrams, Books, ©2007, ISBN 13: 978-0-8109-9346-4

Creating Your Own Miniature Books

Before reading the book to the students, design a decorated Kleenex box with a “meet the author” sign and a mirror glued inside. At the critical point in the story, allow a student to look into the box to “meet the author.” Continue the story, but when it is complete, place some story idea strips in the box from which the students can draw. Ask students to use the idea they drew to start their own “mini masterpiece.” (Of course, if necessary they could suggest their own.) A pattern for a very tiny book (use 11 X 17 paper) is available with the pdf of ideas.

Archy and Mehitabel

Archy was a cockroach that “lived” in the office of the newspaper writer Don Marquis. This lovely character declared, “Expression is the need of my soul.” Every day he wrote free-verse poetry by diving head first onto the keys of Don Marquis’ typewriter in the night to describe a cynical cockroach’s eye view of the world. Because he can’t do upper case or punctuation (because he can’t hold down the shift key) all his “poems” are written in lower case without punctuation. Included with the pdf is a copy of the very first “article” he wrote when the character was introduced to the public.

Archy’s enemy is Mehitabel the reincarnated alley cat. Students could try their hand at writing from the point of view of a typing mouse.

For 7 creative writing ideas, click Library Mouse to download.