During my visit to the Matènwa Community Learning Center (MCLC), I observed Story Time with the 2nd graders! I had never seen anything like it. The students gathered around the carpeted area of the library by making themselves comfortable on benches and settled in for an exciting story. The librarian, Mirlanda Fleurant, sat against the bookshelves, facing her students, and set up the storytelling stage-like device originating from Japan, called a Kamishibai. The stage is a thin wooden box with side panels, and a slit where large story boards are inserted. Once everyone was seated, Ms. Fleurant began telling the story – pulling each numbered storyboard from the side, and sliding it at the back of the stack. After reading one board, Ms. Fleurant simply slid in out of the slot, and read the next. On the front of the boards were illustrations for the students to enjoy, and on the back of the previous storyboard was the corresponding passage, which Ms. Fleurant read aloud. It is a fascinating way to tell a story. Unlike a picture book, which is designed to be enjoyed by an individual, Kamishibai is a group activity – a shared experience that the students love!
The students at MCLC love to listen to the creative stories that their teachers have drawn and written. Friends of Matènwa's dedicated volunteer, Yumi Izuyama brought Kamishibai to our attention, and has been extraordinarily committed to the project, putting together stories and illustrations for the MCLC students to enjoy.