I always associate gingerbread with the holidays. When I was young, my family would make gingerbread houses every holiday season. Usually, we would cover it with our favorite candies. We'd stack it on the mantle in the dining room. Then, after a month, on New Year's Eve, we'd smash it to pieces with a rolling pin and eat it. Well, it usually was pretty tough to eat, but we'd try our best. After all, it had our favorite candies!
I shutter with disgust at the thought of eating an old gingerbread house now a days. A month of dust? I guess that is what becoming an adult does to me. Nevertheless, my kids and I still love gingerbread stories and baking gingerbread cookies. Here are some of our favorite gingerbread books. Click on an image to get the book through Amazon. (I'm an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small portion of the proceeds.)
Traditional Gingerbread Man Stories
My favorite retelling of The Gingerbread Man is that by Jim Alysworth. Each time the Gingerbread Man stops to say his line, the text in the book has a slightly different texture. The is some sass about this Gingerbread Man that I like. It does not tell the story of the Gingerbread Man climbing on the fox's back to cross the river. The fox is the one who stops the Gingerbread Man in his tracks and it is the Gingerbread Man's own hubris that causes him to pause and repeat himself. The back cover of the book features a recipe for gingerbread cookies, too. Perfect for gingerbread season!
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone is even more traditional, including the fox that offers to help the Gingerbread Boy across the river. I have always enjoyed Galdones'illustration style, so his is definitely a glass version of the story!
Gingerbread with Personality
Okay, so once your kids are familiar with the regular version of the gingerbread man story, it is time to meet the more creative counterparts in some of these stories.
In The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, the old man and woman make a gingerbread girl, but she runs off just like her brother did. She does not meet a grim end, since she is the star of her sequel, The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers by Lisa Campbell Ernst.
In Gingerbread Baby from Jan Brett, Mattie opens the oven too early. But he does not chase because he's making a house for the gingerbread baby for when she returns! Gingerbread Baby returns in her sequel, Gingerbread Friends, where she searches for cookie friends without success until Mattie bakes some! These feature delicious treats and fun winter scenes.
The Ninjabread Man by C. J. Lee features a ninjabread man who tries to trick various others ninjas as he escapes being eaten. He's made by a crafty old sensei, and his story of battle with his ninja friends is perfect for the martial arts student! The book features karate vocabulary and a glossary, and it even has a "ninja"bread recipe as well. Get a set of ninja cookie cutters, and you'll be set to make ninja cookies yourself!
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup is perfect for the holiday season, since it features a boy and his mother making gingerbread cookies who are pirates for Santa Claus. I love the idea of pirates because the legs are always falling off my shaped cookies! I also love the fun twist on this Christmas night story. Maybe we'll make gingerbread for Santa this year!
Gingerbread in Different Settings
Then it is always fun to take gingerbread into new scenes for a completely new type of story.
As can be expected from the title, in The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle, the gingerbread character escapes on a library shelf. He meets some fun characters when he visits the 920 section (biographies) of the library. Perfect for the librarian or library lover!
In a clever twist, The Gingerbread Bear by Robert Dennis, the gingerbread character is a bear baked by a park ranger. When he escapes into the national park, park rangers and the campers all come together to trick the sneaky bear!
The Gingerbread Boy by Robert Egielski puts the Gingerbread Boy in the middle of an urban center. Perfect for the city dwellers among us!
The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires features a rancher and his wife baking a cowboy from gingerbread. When he comes out of the oven, he takes off running across the desert, escaping a number of things until he meets a sleepy coyote.
Not only can gingerbread stories be found in different settings, switch the character running away to get a completely new and cultural instructional story!
In The Musubi Man: Hawaii’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama, the flavors, animals, and people in Hawaii feature in this new retelling of the story.
The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Schulmann is a Passover Seder version of the story. It has Yiddish terms throughout the story.
The Runaway Tortilla by Erik Kimmel includes counting as the tortilla escapes past various desert animals until it reaches a coyote.
The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Change Compestine. Chinese New Year is in full swing when the special rice cake runs off.
And sometimes we just need another type of gingerbread story.
Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray is one I've mentioned before. We did a super fun hide-and-seek game with maps and a Gingerbread Man!
Ten Tiny Gingerbread Men by Ruth Galloway is a fun concept book counting to 10. I love the bright colors!
One of my favorite holiday books is Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson. In this book, Mortimer is looking for a home that is not as drafty as his previous hideout. He thinks he has found one, until he comes to understand that the manger is really for the baby Jesus. I love how, in the end, he finds a home. Hint: it's gingerbread!
The best part of gingerbread (in my opinion) is eating the gingerbread. Whether it had to be chased down or decorated to look like a house, I love yummy gingerbread! I made a simple writing prompt to help my little one put the how-to's of eating a gingerbread man (or cookie) in order. My son said he'd eat the head first so he couldn't hear him screaming. I say I'll eat the feet first so he does not run away on me!
Would you like the free "How I Eat My Gingerbread" printable page?
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My preschooler and I had so much fun creating our gingerbread garland pictured above. Get the template for it and many other Christmas-y STEAM projects in the STEAM Kids Christmas Coloring Book. It's actually more of an activity book, as it has 3D art, coloring pages, counting by number, color-by-number, and much more!
The coloring book is a great combination with STEAM Kids Christmas! STEAM Kids Christmas is as beautiful as its parent book, STEAM Kids. I love the amazing number of activities in here. I'm definitely giving my STEM Challenge class the challenge cards to take home during our upcoming holiday break.