Storycard Theater® books are printed in Japanese kamishibai format — sturdy cards with colorful art on the front for the audience and dramatic text on the back for you. With kamishibai (literally “paper theater”) you can read to a group of children while showing them the pictures. No more twisting your neck to read a picture book! With the freedom to look your audience in the eye, you communicate more naturally. Reading becomes storytelling. It’s easy and fun.
Our cards are 10×13 inches — small enough to hold comfortably, yet large enough to showcase the colorful artwork. The back of each card features clear, kid-tested text and a smaller version of the image the audience is seeing, so you always stay matched up.
Storycard Theater dramas are ideal for classrooms, home schooling, birthday parties, daycare centers, and students learning English. Many children enjoy performing them for each other, or inventing their own stories based on the artwork.
The kamishibai (kah-mee-shee-bye) format is part of a long tradition of visual storytelling. As far back as the 12th century, Buddhist monks traveled Asia with picture scrolls to enhance their stories and lectures.
The modern kamishibai format debuted in downtown Tokyo during the Great Depression, when thousands of people were suddenly looking for work. Between the 1930s and 1950s in Japan, it was common to see kamishibai storytellers in parks, fields, or on street corners — wherever children gathered. Riding up on bicycles with a small wooden stage mounted on the back, these enterprising men sold candies and snacks to the children, and then launched into a dramatic performance. (Children who bought candy got to stand closer.)
Historians estimate there were once 50,000 kamishibai storytellers in Japan. Unfortunately, as television began to lure children indoors, these storytellers gradually disappeared. (See photos of our visit with “the last kamishibai man in Tokyo.”)
Leaf Moon Arts is excited to bring back this unique and effective form of storytelling. Learn more about our stories and try it yourself. We think you’ll see why Storycard Theater owners call the series “spellbinding.”
Leaf Moon Arts is a Japanese-English publisher and storytelling collective based in Folsom, California. Inspired by classic folktales from around the world, we strive to produce stories that demonstrate positive themes to children, such as kindness, friendship, and honesty.