Kamishibai (kah-mee-she-bye) or “paper-theater,” is a Japanese tradition of picture storytelling, where illustrations on panels appear within a miniature theater, much to the delight of viewers. Patrons to the Rockridge Library have enjoyed Kamishibai presentations for two years since FORL purchased one for the children's area.
Adding a Kamishibai program to the library was the brainchild of Children's Librarian Erica Siskind. Kamishibai programs are popular events--she's been busily presenting Kamishibai stories, teaching origami, and providing Japanese snacks to children at the library, at community events, at the Oakland Museum, and at local schools. This program is so beloved and so special, and Erica is so talented, that she was selected to participate in an international Kamishibai festival in Nueva Leon, Mexico this September! We couldn't be prouder or more excited for Erica.
This Spring, Erica held workshops where youth worked on Kamishibai projects, crafting words and images for 8- to 12-page stories. Erica shared, "the content varied dramatically, including a Muslim folktale, a Pikachu-like transformation-battle story, a fierce war between dragons and foxes, and a dream-like story with unicorns, princesses, and a flying carpet. They were all wonderful!"
Erica is one of the few people doing public performances of Kamishibai in the Bay Area, and we're so proud of her and her creative use of this wonderful story-telling tradition. She has engaged children, tweens and teens, adults, and Japanese-American families in our community and we're thrilled about her upcoming trip to the festival in Mexico. What's up next for the library is a traveling Kamishibai set that patrons from other Oakland Public Library branches can enjoy. We're proud of our Children's Librarian, Erica Siskind!