December always gets me thinking about gingerbread. You can give this theme a thorough exploration because so many books have been written based on the traditional gingerbread man folktale. In fact, author Jan Brett has authored two books on this theme. But don't forget Hansel and Gretel, and a few others. You may wish to decorate gingerbread cookies or make a paper bag gingerbread ornament as part of your children's story hour. If you are very brave, you might even attempt a live retelling of the gingerbread man story. This story is very easy to remember and retell, and with a little practice, will hold your audience captive, even if you are a first time storyteller.
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone (ISBN-10: 0899191630) is at the top of my list of gingerbread stories. Galdone is the go to author for a clean, traditional version of just about any folktale or fairytale. His stories are unapologetically traditional, which I appreciate. It's also fun to mix up stories, but helpful to introduce young audiences to a topic for the first time. My full review of The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone.
Jan Brett's gingerbread stories include The Gingerbread Baby (ISBN-10: 0399241663) and Gingerbread Friends (ISBN-10: 0399251618). Each of these stories stars a cute young boy named Mattie who brings an appealing human element to the traditional folktale. Jan Brett's illustrations are especially delightful, with gingerbread-style trim on all the Scandinavian-style village houses.
If you are unfamiliar with Brett's body of work, I encourage you to visit her Jan Brett web site. She offers many freebies such as coloring pages and games that she has created from the characters that appear in her stories. You will find Brett's body of work is huge.
Hansel and Gretel retold by Cynthia Rylant (ISBN-10: 1423111869) with illustrations by Jen Corace is a popular retelling of the original tale by the Brothers Grimm. The text of this particular version of the Hansel and Gretel story isn't as lengthy as some of the others, but the book is 40 pages long, which is 8 pages more than the typical 32-page children's story.
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock (ISBN-10: 0590972197) is another popular version of the gingerbread story. This story has the rhyming text "No! No!/I won't come back!/I'd rather run/Than be your snack!" which is original but easy to read aloud.
For variations on a gingerbread theme, try one of these two books: I wouldn't be any kind of western girl without mentioning the Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires (ISBN-10: 0060778636). In this rendition, the gingerbread man encounters a wiley coyote instead of a fox. The western elements in this story make for a fun change-up of the traditional tale, with all kinds of details straight from the old West. Read my full review of The Gingerbread Cowboy here.
The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst (ISBN-10: 0525476679) promotes girl power with the smart gingerbread girl outfoxing the fox himself. This smart retelling received high reviews, except some parents and teachers found the author's word choices objectionable in a few places. You should decide for yourself as this is a cute and original retelling of the story.
Ginger Bear by Mini Grey (ISBN-10: 0375842535) is my last book recommendation for this article. It is a quirky revisit of the gingerbread story with the family dog being the culprit instead of a fox. This story has a busy, almost frenzied feel, and offers some delightful surprises (like when Ginger Bear decides to make a few friends). The resolution of the story is completely unique and ironic but also somehow is true to the original tale. You must read this story and decide if you want to use it in
your story hour.
A Few More Cookie Books Worth Mentioning
Books about cookies are in abundant supply too. You may want to expand your gingerbread-themed story hour to include some of these additional titles.
- Christmas Cookies: Bite-Sized Holiday Lessons
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff my be too well-known to mention, but I'll risk it. This cute tale includes a mouse, a cookie, and a rollicking circular adventure that ends where it begins. Numeroff has published an entire series of these books including If you Give a Cat a Cupcake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin.
- The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall. This heartwarming Christmas story about a young boy and his special angel-shaped Christmas story is a wonderful addition to any Christmas-themed lesson. This book has a Christian message.
- The Cookie Tree by Jay Williams is another story by the author of The King With Six Friends. Last time I checked, this book was out of print but it is still available through secondary markets.
More Preschool Children's Book Themes
- Snowman/Snow Preschool Theme with Recommended Childr...
This snow-themed preschool curriculum plan includes recommended children's books, a guided movement activity, and art ideas.
- Children's Picture Books for December Storytime Them...
These themes and book selections will make your December story hour planning a snap! Themes include snowmen, mittens, playing in the snow, and gingerbread.
- Best Children's Picture Books for Christmas: A Compr...
Several years ago I wanted to establish some memorable Christmas traditions with my young and growing family. My collection of Christmas-themed children's picture books grew out of a desire to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my home. In this hu
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 07, 2012:
Thank you and thanks for commenting each time you read my hubs! My family is yet again involved in a co-op preschool and these collections have come in handy recently. This one is one of my favorites.
htodd from United States on January 29, 2012:
Thanks for the nice post..great collection of books
Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on October 01, 2011:
Thanks RT. I love this theme because it is so easy to prepare a special craft for it. Lots of different choices. Maybe I'll have to add on or do a follow-up hub? LOL!
RTalloni on September 30, 2011:
Oh! I want to read all of these. The Gingerbread man tells such an important story--I'm looking forward to your review links, and I hope the Gingerbread Girl doesn't have objectionable aspects for her story could be just as important!