Tara McGowan

Storyteller • Visual Artist • Teacher • Writer   

-download Curriculum Vitae



Tara McGowan is a storyteller, author, and visual artist, who has been performing kamishibai for over two decades. In 2010, she published The Kamishibai Classroom: Engaging Multiple Literacies through the Art of ‘Paper Theater’ (ABC-CLIO) based on her workshops with children. She received her doctorate in literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and, in 2015, published her research as Performing Kamishibai: An Emerging New Literacy for a Global Audience (Routledge). She received the Horio Seishi Award from the Children’s Cultural Research Center in Tokyo in 2017 for her international kamishibai work. She is currently co-director of the World Kamishibai Forum (https://writeoutloudeducation.weebly.com/world-kamishibai-forum.html).

Tara earned a BA from Princeton University in Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies and later returned to Princeton to receive her teaching credential. She spent a year at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama and a year at Kyoto University, studying Japanese folklore on an Ito Foundation Fellowship. She has returned to Japan many times to perform and study with kamishibai artists and storytellers. Click here for Tara’s full CV.


Online articles:








“Integrating Kamishibai Performance across the Curriculum”



“The Many Faces of Kamishibai (Japanese Paper Theater): Past, Present, and Future”




Teacher Workshops


National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), virtual “Journey of East Asia:

Adventures through Stories, Games, and Maps” (July 2021)


Nunutsi! International Kamishibai Festival, Durango, Mexico (November, 2019)


Alal! International Kamishibai Festival, Monterrey, New Mexico

            Kamishibai Workshop (September, 2017)


Japan Society of New York

Japan Across the Curriculum (November, 2014)

Kamishibai as a Multimodal Literacy (March, 2012)


Ohio State University, Institute for Japanese Studies (February, 2014)

Connecting Kamishibai to the Core Curriculum State Standards


International Reading Association (Phoenix, Arizona—February, 2009)

The Art of Kamishibai: A “Multimodal” Literacy


Japan Society in New York

 Kamishibai for Teaching Visual Literacy (October, 2007)

Using Kamishibai to Teach about Japanese Festivals (August, 2005)


NJEA TESOL Conference

Kamishibai Techniques in the Bilingual Classroom (July, 2007)

Susan J. Epply Summer Storytelling Institutes for Teachers, Princeton University

Kamishibai as a Picture-Storytelling Form (July, 2007)

Nara Prefectural Teacher’s College in Nara, Japan (presented in Japanese)

Kamishibai in American Classrooms (July, 2005)

Performances and Events


National Storytelling Network Conference Showcase, “Connecting the World through Kamishibai.” virtual (July 2021)


Co-organized and performed in “The World Kamishibai Forum,” virtual year-long series (2020-21) https://writeoutloudeducation.weebly.com/world-kamishibai-forum.html


Nu Nutsi! International Kamishibai Festival, Durango, Dgo. (November, 2019)


Zenkoku Kamishibai Taikai (National Kamishibai Festival, Yamagata, Japan) Featured Storyteller (September, 2019)


Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, “Tanabata Festival,” (Summer, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)


International Symposium: “The Art of Kamishibai: The Word of the Image and the Image of the Word.” Invited presenter. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (May, 2018)


VI International Festival of Kamishibai and oral narrators, Alhii Durango,

Mexico (April, 2018)


Alal! International Kamishibai Festival, Monterrey, Mexico

            Weeklong series of storytelling events throughout the city (September, 2017)


Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Hello from Japan! (January and May, 2015)

Featured artist and storyteller to present interactive workshop for children 5 and older. 


County College of Morris 8th Annual Storytelling Festival of World Music and Story (March, 2014) Featured storyteller.


American Philosophical Society Museum (Fall, 2013)

“What Cornelius Varley Saw,” an original kamishibai performance developed in conjunction with the Exhibition: “Through the Looking Lens: Cornelius Varley’s Wondrous Images of Art and Science, 1800-1860” (Fall, 2013)


Princeton University, Firestone Library (December, 2012)

“Truly Grimm: An Afternoon of Storytelling with Susan Danoff and Tara McGowan” in Honor of the Bicentenary of the Grimm Brothers’ Kinder-und Hausmarchen


American Museum of Natural History in New York (March, 2012)

Cherry Blossom Festival


PBS TV series “Great Libraries of the World” (Program 108) Cotsen Children’s Library

Featured as a storyteller and Japan scholar (2011)


Storytelling Center of New York and African American Folk Heritage Association (November, 2008) Featured Storyteller for Tellebration


Nobatake Library in Osaka, Japan (July, 2008)

Presented on teaching English through storytelling, mostly in Japanese


Minoh Kamishibai Festival, Minoh City, Japan (July, 2005 and 2008)

Performed my own original kamishibai stories in Japanese


Japan Society of New York (July, 2005 and 2007)

Led a troupe of children kamishibai performers between ages of 7 and 15, who performed their original kamishibai stories for Children’s Day


Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (October, 2005)

Presented on Japanese ghosts in conjunction with their Japanese print exhibition


Kamakura City Community Center, Kamakura, Japan (July, 2005)

Demonstrated participatory storytelling techniques in Japanese


Princeton University Art Museum (March, 2005)

Presenting stories and stone rubbings from the Wu Liang Funerary Shrine


Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Children’s Museum (April, 2004)

Developed a series of storytelling events based on their exhibition “Japan and the Seasons”


S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian in Washington, DC (May, 2004)

Presented Balinese folktales in conjunction with a talk on “Bali: Indonesia’s Hindu Realm”


Contact Information:

Tara McGowan

34-F Chicopee Dr.

Princeton, NJ 08540