Favorite gingerbread stories

This holiday, use favorite stories and themes to teach children how to compare and contrast.

By Becca Ross

Kindergarten & First Grade Teacher

Becca is a schoolteacher and blogs at homeiswheremystorybegins.com. She loves to cook, bake, garden, sew, quilt, teach and simply spend time with her family. She strives to find art in everyday things.

The holiday season in my classroom is always filled with gingerbread stories. As a teacher in a public school, I need to steer clear of Christmas books to be respectful of all cultures. Gingerbread stories are full of the festivities of the season but have no mention of Christmas, so they are fun for me to use in the classroom.

We love reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man. I usually start by reading two traditional versions that end in different ways. I try to find a version where the sneaky fox gobbles up the Gingerbread Man and also a version where the Gingerbread Man escapes to safety. Once we have read the classics, we venture off into a few adaptations.

As we read the stories, we talk about the new term ADAPTATION. We talk about how authors sometimes take an old story and create a new one with their own twist. With support, kids will be able to answer questions about key details in the story and compare those key details to other versions. We work on retelling the stories and identifying the characters, setting and important events.

We love talking about the work of the different authors and illustrators and pointing out their different styles. My students always begin to notice the way Jan Brett creates illustrations that are packed with different things to look at and explore as you read. They love the element of her borders and how she creates “peek-a-boo” windows to give you a glimpse into the next page of the book.

We also explore different qualities of the gingerbread stories using Venn diagrams. We talk about the characters, setting and events in two different books to find things that are the same or different about the books.

Our favorite gingerbread stories

  • The Gingerbread Man (Easy-to-Read Folktales) by Karen Schmidt
  • The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires and Holly Berry
  • The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock
  • The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and Matt Tavares
  • Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  • The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
  • The Gingerbread Bear by Robert Dennis and Tammie Lyon
  • The Gingerbread Village by The Learning Workshop

Don’t forget to read your gingerbread stories while enjoying a gingerbread cookie and a cup of cocoa! Happy reading!