Kamishibai is a box containing picture-slides to accompany the telling of an oral story. It is a Japanese artform that literally means ‘paper drama’. It can be used by groups or individually to tell the stories of their choice. There’s lots more information for teachers and partners in education at
The Welsh Kamishibai was made by Dez Quarréll in 2008 with a grant from Arts Council Wales. The idea of using Kamishibai to re-engage boys who had become reluctant readers in years 5 to 8 was trialed extensively during Mythstories workshops in 2007 for “Read A Million Words In Wales” a campaign launched by the Basic Skills Agency. The aim of the Welsh Assembly-funded project was to encourage children to read a million words in a year to reduce the National attainment lag in literacy. Boys responded with enthusiasm to the challenge of building their own Kamishibais and telling the tales using their own words. Once they had perfected their tellings they became more engaged with writing to share their work and more engaged in reading to source stories to feature in their boxes.
Dez took time out from his normal duties as artist in residence at Mythstories museum to design and build the Welsh Kamishibai in the Winter of 2007/08. The kamishibai features two slightly grisly Welsh folktales and a light-hearted story about a house that has its front door at the back. All three include fairies or as they are called in Wales the Ellyllon or Tylwyth Teg, and the key character in each tale is called John.
The first, the tale of John Roberts is from Flint Mountain in North Wales and can be found here:-
The second, the tale of John Gethin is from Ystradgynlais in the far South of Powys and can be found here:-
The third, the tale of the farmer John Lloyd, is told throughout Wales, Dez’s version is set near Welshpool in Mid-Wales. In can be found at the page below as the featured tale in a creativity challenge to make your own Kamishibai:-
Have a go! Make your own Kamishibai.
The Welsh Kamishibai is now part of the Grosvenor Park Academy Mini Storytelling Museum in Chester.