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The functionality of the paper theatres is multilayered:
1. they can be performed in a traditional way by an adult for an audience of children,
2. be made by children
The collective making of a Kamishibai presents an opportunity for communal writing and the making of illustrations. It is also an opportunity for children to express their creativity. It helps them clarify and structure their thoughts and capture the most important elements of a tale.
3. performed by children
The paper theatre helps children express themselves before an audience, structure what they have to say, overcome their fear of performing in front of their peers. They can even tell a tale before learning to read with the help of the images on the back of the cards.
4. helping children with special needs
Notable results can be achieved with autistic, hyperactive and emotionally vulnerable children; it is often helpful for verbal communication – which is not working in these children, or not working properly – to be reinforced through another channel, and helps them focus their attention. The illustrations also help support communication with deaf children.
With the help of the Kamishibai, it is easy to organize simple but exciting performances for groups of children.