Never did I expect when I woke this morning, that by the afternoon I would be on a stage, telling a story about a chicken.
Yet that is exactly what happened at The 3rd Asia Oceania Regional IBBY Congress at TK Park in Bangkok.
In the morning, I attended a session by IBBY Foundation President, Patricia Aldana, on how intergenerational reading programs have been used to promote reading around the world. She demonstrated how even one person with a passion can make a huge difference in many people’s lives.
I also went to a session by the Managing Director of Nanmeebooks, Kim Chongsatitwatana, who shared how teachers from all subject areas can incorporate reading and various forms of art into their curriculums to make learning more engaging and meaningful to children.
After lunch, I attended a workshop called ‘Wonder World of Kamishibai’. This was hosted by Etsuko Nozaka and Avery Fischer Udagawa, both from the International Kamishibai Association of Japan (IKAJA).
I was excited to learn about Kamishibai, as I have never seen it before.
Have you ever heard of Kamishibai?
It’s a wonderful form of Japanese storytelling that began on the streets of Tokyo in the 1930s. Originally kamishibai were handmade, and performers would bring the Kamishibai to street corners on the backs of bicycles.
Kamishibai consists of a small wooden box that opens into a stage (butai). Loose sheets of thick paper have illustrations on the front, and the text on the back. The paper is placed into the stage, and the sheets of paper are slid out one by one to reveal the next image.
So, why what is the difference between reading a book to people, or performing kamishibai? I wondered this myself.
Nozaka explained that when we read a book to someone, we are focused on the book. It is usually an immersive and individual experience, where both the reader and listener/s concentrate on the book. We read the words, and when satisfied, turn the pages. Books allow us to enter into another world, and empathize with the characters in the story. This is a wonderful experience!
However, kamishibai provides a different experience to a book. Firstly, the reader, or rather “performer”, can face the audience due to the design of the kamishibai. This allows the performer to engage with the audience more easily, and create eye contact. Rather than being immersed in a book, kamishibai allows the story to happen outside, around everyone. The stage itself is fascinating, and the pictures can be zipped out in a flash, or slowly pulled, creating suspension. This form of storytelling is captivating, and allows everyone to experience the story together.
After watching both Nozaka and Fischer Udagawa perform kamishibai, they asked if anyone else would like to have a turn. Despite being a little bit nervous, I put up my hand.
And that is how I found myself hooked up to a microphone, telling a room full of adults a tale about a baby chick and a rooster.
This opportunity was thanks to my New Colombo Plan Scholarship from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia.