Biographical Information

Tara M Mcgowan, PhD

146 Brook Rd.

East Burke, VT 05832


Curriculum Vitae


  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellowship (2013-2015) American Philosophical Society Museum for research on their collection of 18 th century illustrated science books for children
  • University of Pennsylvania, PhD, May 2012, Graduate School of Education (2006-2012) Dissertation title: Loosening the Ligatures of Text: Kamishibai (Paper Theater) in the Modal Ecologies of 21st Century Classrooms
  • Princeton University, BA, East Asian Studies/Comparative Literature Graduated Summa Cum Laude, June 1990 Completed Teachers Preparation Certification Program, January 2001
  • Kyoto Sangyō University (Kyoto, Japan) Visiting Scholar, Institute for World Affairs, November 2012
  • Kyoto University (Kyoto, Japan) Ito Foundation Scholarship Research Fellow in Comparative Folklore Studies, 1993-94
  • Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (Yokohama, Japan), 1987-88

Professional Experience

  • Coordinating a series of online kamishibai workshops and events, including a monthly gathering (the Kamishibai Dojo), where participants help each other improve their works-in-progress and performances. Co-Founder, World Kamishibai Forum/ Kamishibai Dojo (2020-present)
  • Artist and Teacher (2001-Present) Researching and presenting teacher workshops and thematic programs and workshops in schools, libraries, and museums—for a complete listing of programs, see
  • Researching and presenting teacher workshops and thematic programs and workshops in schools, libraries, and museums—for a complete listing of programs, see
  • Researching and presenting teacher workshops and thematic programs and workshops in schools, libraries, and museums—for a complete listing of programs, see
  • Executive Director, The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC Japan) (2017- 2023)
  • Metadata Consultant for Japanese Collections in the Rare Books and Services Department at Princeton University’s Cotsen Children’s Library (2015-2020)
  • Curatorial and Exhibitions Research Associate at the American Philosophical Society Museum (Philadelphia, PA) Curating special exhibitions at the gallery in Philosophical Hall, highlighting interdisciplinary links between art, history, and science. (2012- 2015)


  • Jefferson, Science, and Exploration (April-December, 2015)
  • Jefferson, Philadelphia, and the Founding of a Nation (April-December, 2014)
  • Through the Looking Lens: Cornelius Varley’s Wondrous Images of Art and Science, 1800-1860 (April-December, 2013)
  • Transit of Venus, 1639-2012 (June-July, 2012)
  • Bibliographic Specialist, Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University (2010-2011) Assisted in researching and cataloguing their Japanese children’s book collection
  • Instructor of Masters-level course on Children’s and Adolescent Literature, University of Pennsylvania (2007-2010) Taught the children’s literature survey course for MA students from the Reading/Writing/Literacy division and Teacher Education Preparation division of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education
  • Assistant Editor of peer-reviewed journal, Children’s Literature in Education (2006-2010) Managed the online system connecting reviewers with appropriate manuscript submissions and assisted in final editorial decisions regarding acceptance or revision
  • Consultant to Cotsen Children’s Library’s Outreach Coordinator (2008) Acted as cultural consultant in the development of their kamishibai trunk program for second-grade level
  • Affiliated Artist, Storytelling Arts, Inc. (2001-2006) Conducted long-term storytelling residencies in public schools in New Jersey, including three years in second grade classes in Spotswood, NJ
  • Research Assistant (1990-1992) Conducted research for Nobel-prize winning novelist, Toni Morrison
  • Assistant Editor and Translator at Kodansha Publishers (Tokyo, Japan) (1990-93) Copyedited the publication of Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia



  • Performing Kamishibai: An Emerging New Literacy for a Global Audience (Routledge Press, 2015)
  • The Kamishibai Classroom: Engaging Multiple Literacies through the Art of “Paper Theater” (Linworth Libraries Unlimited, 2010)


  • “Whole Language Learning in Action: Cultivating a Cosmopolitan Perspective through the World Kamishibai Forum” Talking PointsVolume 34, Issue 2, May 2023, p. 10 – 19
  • Resilience in Media Ecologies Mapping the Converging Histories of Magic Lanterns, Omocha-e (Toy Prints) and Kamishibai (Paper Theater), The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film 2022 Official Conference Proceedings
  • “Time Travels with Kamishibai: The Ongoing Adventures of a Magical Moving Medium,” Amfiteater, Journal of Performing Arts Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, December, 2019
  • “The Designs of Kawasaki Kyosen: Envisioning the Future of a Vanishing World through Toy Pictures (Omocha-e),” Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume 64, No. 3, Spring, 2013
  • Kamishibai no ronbunde hakase gō shūtoku (On getting a PhD with a dissertation about kamishibai) Kodomo no bunka (Journal of Children’s Culture), Vol. 3, 2013
  • “Abstract Deictic Gestures-In-Interaction: A Barometer of Intersubjective Knowledge Development in Small-Group Discussion” Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall, 2010.
  • Tokushū: Hirogaru kamishibai no sekai (Special edition: The expanding world of kamishibai), Kodomo no bunka (Journal of Children’s Culture), Vol. 12, 2005.
  • Afterword, The Kamishibai Man, picture book written and illustrated by Allen Say (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005)
  • Translated the chapter by novelist Haruki Murakami, “A Literary Comrade,” in Remembering Ray: A Composite Biography of Raymond Carver. Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1993

Online articles and blog posts:

Academic Conferences

  • The IAFOR Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film, Kyoto (October 2022) Paper title: Resilience in Media Ecologies: Mapping the Converging Histories of Magic Lanterns, Omocha-e (Toy Prints) and Kamishibai (Paper Theater)
  • Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference, Hawaii (March 2022) Paper title: “Throw-back or Innovation? Mapping the Converging Histories of Magic Lanterns and Kamishibai (Paper Theater) ”
  • University of Cambridge (online) (February 2022) Paper title: “Converging Histories: Magic Lanterns, Kamishibai, and Shadow Play in Japan”
  • Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, virtual (June 2021) Paper title: “Mapping the Interdependencies of Media-in-Miniature through おもちゃ絵 Omocha-e (Play Prints)”
  • Association for Asian Studies Conference, virtual (March 2021) discussant. Panel title: “‘Blown Together’ on the Winds of Trade: Japanese Presence in Southeast Asia Before and After World War II”
  • Literacy Research Association Conference, Carlsbad, CA (December 2015) Paper title: “Censorship and the Kineikonic Mode: Gender Equity and the Clash between Cultural Appropriateness and Boys’ Imaginations”
  • Dublin Seminars, Historic Deerfield: Education in New England, (June, 2015) Paper Title: “Enlightened Conversations in the “Kennebec Kingdom” of Sarah Manning Vaughan (1753-1834)”
  • Ethnography in Education Research Forum, University of Pennsylvania (February, 2015) Paper Title: “Inquiry in the Museum Setting: The American Philosophical Society’s Past and Present Role in Collecting Recordings of Native American Languages”
  • Literacy Research Association Conference, “Investigating 21 st Century Literacies: Exploring Uses of New Literacies,” San Diego, CA (November, 2012) Paper Title: “Expanding the ‘Reach’ of Modes: Kamishibai (Paper Theater) in 21 st Century Classrooms
  • Ethnography in Education Research Forum, University of Pennsylvania (February, 2011) Paper Title: “Accessing Narrative through the Moving Image—Foregrounding the kineikonic mode in a culturally diverse classroom”
  • American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, 2011) Paper Title: “Art as Gesture: Coordinating Visual and Gestural Modes in Student Picture-Storytelling Performance”         

Funding and Awards

  • Japan Foundation of New York for “The World Kamishibai Forum” (2022-2023)
  • Center for Global Partnership Grant for “The World Kamishibai Forum” (2020-2021)
  • Horio Seishi Award from the Center for Research on Japanese Children’s Culture, Tokyo (July, 2017) for contributions to kamishibai storytelling and research
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellowship (September 2013-August 2015) American Philosophical Society Museum for research on their collection of 18 th century illustrated science books for children.
  • The Reading/Writing/Literacy Book Award (May 2012) University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
  • Friends of Princeton University Library Award (2011) for research conducted on the Cotsen Children’s Library’s collection of rare omocha-e (toy picture) prints
  • Dean’s Scholarship (2006-2010) for doctoral course work at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Commissioner’s Distinguished Teacher Candidate Award (2001) The State of New Jersey, Department of Education
  • Ito Foundation Scholarship (1993-94) for study at Kyoto University.
  • Japan Foundation Grant (1987-88) for study at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies

Teacher Workshops

  • Rutgers University, International K-12 Books Course with Professor Marc Aronson, online seminar on kamishibai (2022-2024)
  • Bibliothéque Municipale de Lyon online workshop “Empowering Seniors and Students with Special Needs Using the Unique Characteristics of Kamishibai” (November, 2023)
  • Series of workshops with Pepe Cabana Kojachi, Diretor of Raymi Kamishibai, Lima, Peru (October-November, 2023)
  • Indian Kamishibai Association, online workshop for teachers in India (February, 2022)
  • Proyecto Kamishibai Peru online seminar for teachers (August, 2021)
  • 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

  • III Festival Internacional de Kamishibai (Santiago, Chile)—Featured storyteller (online) (January, 2024)
  • Zenkoku Kamishibai Matsuri (National Kamishibai Festival, Kawagoe, Japan)—Featured Storyteller and Presenter on the World Kamishibai Forum (August, 2023)
  • 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)
  • 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 8 th 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”

Languages and Technical Skills

  • Japanese, fluent in speaking and reading; Norwegian, intermediate level
  • Microsoft Office, Photoshop, iMovie, Omeka, FilemakerPro