Gingerbread is a great topic for teaching during the month of December because it is not holiday-specific and it’s something that all of your students can enjoy. In addition, many of your students’ families will bake gingerbread cookies, decorate gingerbread houses or read gingerbread man books during this festive month. This list of gingerbread man books will help you tie in this joyful theme in a fun and academic way.
There are tons of different gingerbread stories out there. This lends itself to a compare and contrast lesson or unit using a variety of gingerbread books. Some of my favorites are The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, and The Gingerbread Man by Karen Schmidt. Check out the full list of gingerbread man books below and be sure to grab the gingerbread activities that go with some of them!
This post highlights the following books (that make great winter read alouds):
- The Cajun Cornbread Boy
- The Gingerbread Girl
- The Gingerbread Cowboy
- The Matzo Ball Boy
- The Matzah Man: A Passover Story
- Senorita Gordita
- The Sourdough Man
- Gingerbread Friends
- The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers
- The Runaway Rice Cake
- The Runaway Beignet
- The Runaway Tortilla
- The Musubi Man: Hawaii’s Gingerbread Man
- Tough Cookie
- Gingerbread Pirates
- The Library Gingerbread Man
- The Gingerbread Boy
- Can’t Catch Me
- The Runaway Wok
- Gingerbread Baby
20 Gingerbread Man Books
Below are some of my favorite gingerbread man books to share with elementary students. Your students are going to love these stories!
The Cajun Cornbread Boy by Dianne De Las Casas
In The Cajun Cornbread Boy, an old woman decided to cook up a Cajun Cornbread Boy because she wanted a son. She put the cornbread in a magic skillet. Then, she placed two chilis for the eyes, pepper for the nose, and a sausage for the mouth. However, as soon as the cornbread was done cooking, he sprouted up on two legs and started running from the house!
The Cajun Cornbread Boy ran into the woods, and the old woman began chasing him. While running, the cornbread boy encountered a raccoon, a fox, and an alligator, who all wanted to eat him!
The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst
After the escape of the Gingerbread Boy, the lonely old woman and the lonely old man decide to bake a gingerbread girl in the book The Gingerbread Girl. As soon as the old woman opened the oven, the Gingerbread Girl runs out the door. While running, she encounters a group of hungry farmers, a pig, an artist, a cow and her calf, a dog walker and his dogs, and a group of children at school, and they all want to eat her! With everyone close behind her, the Gingerbread Girl finally encounters the fox who ate her brother. She manages to outsmart the fox and bring everyone back to the home of the lonely old woman and the lonely old man. Finally, they have company and they can all bake cookies together!
The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires
Once upon a time in the Wild west, there lived a rancher and his wife in the story The Gingerbread Cowboy. The wife would make biscuits every morning, but one day she decided to bake a gingerbread cowboy instead. She used raisins, candies, and nuts to make the eyes, mouth, and a cowboy hat. But, as soon as the rancher opened the oven to see what was making that wonderful smell, the Gingerbread Cowboy escaped and ran out the door!
While running, the Gingerbread Cowboy encountered a horned lizard, a roadrunner, a group of javelinas, a herd of cattle, and some hungry cowboys, who he all managed to escape from. Then, he came across a coyote napping in the sun. Confident from his past successes, the Gingerbread Cowboy jumped onto the coyote to get away from the rest of the creatures still chasing him. What he didn’t know was that the coyote had some tricks up his sleeve!
The Matzo Ball Boy by Lisa Shulman
In The Matzo Ball Boy, an old grandmother lived all alone in a tiny cottage in a small village in a far-off country. Her children were all grown up and hardly came to visit. Passover was soon approaching. With nobody to come to the holiday dinner, the old grandmother decided to make a matzo ball boy with her matzo ball soup.
As soon as she opened the lid to the pot, the matzo ball boy jumped out and ran out the door! The Matzo Ball Boy encountered a schneider, a yenta and her children, a rabbi, and a fox. He ran away from all of them and escaped to a forest. However, it was getting dark and the Matzo Ball Boy was starting to get cold and tired. He came across a poor man dressed in rags. The man invited him in and his wife cooked a meal, with one more ingredient than usual!
The Matzah Man: A Passover Story by Naumi Howland
In The Matzah Man: A Passover Story, Mr. Cohen the baker made lots and lots of matzah for Passover. With his last scraps of dough, he rolled out a matzah shaped like a man. When the baker opened the oven, the Matzah Man jumped out and ran out the door of the bakery!
With the baker close behind, the Matzah Man encountered a red hen, Cousin Tillie, Auntie Bertha, Grandpapa Solly, and a grey goat. Getting tired, the Matzah Man stopped at the house of Mendel Fox and hid on the table under a blanket. Everyone crowded into Mendel’s house, and, as they began the seder, they all took a piece of matzah!
Senorita Gordita by Helen Kettemen
In this retelling of the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man, Senorita Gordita, Araña makes herself a gordita. Then, she sets it on a paper towel to drain. When she does, Senorita Gordita gets up and runs out the door! She flees from hungry creatures such as a scorpion and a rattlesnake, but she finally meets her match when she comes face-to-face with an owl.
Students will love this Southwestern retelling of a classic. It is also a great opportunity to introduce the definitions of some Spanish words from the book!
The Sourdough Man by Cherie Stihler
Students will love this Alaskan retelling of the classic Gingerbread Man storyline. In The Sourdough Man, a runaway loaf of sourdough meets animals native to Alaska such as a muskox, lemming, raven, ptarmigan, hare, caribou, marmot, golden eagle, and finally an arctic fox. This book is a great tool to introduce many of the animals found on the arctic tundra.
Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
In Gingerbread Friends, Gingerbread Baby lives in a gingerbread house in the bedroom of a little boy named Mattie. Although he is happy with the toys and treats Mattie gave him, he still feels like something is missing. One day, when Mattie goes out to play with his friend, the Gingerbread Baby realizes that he needs a friend of his own. The next day, he slips out and goes into the village to find a friend. He tries to talk to a gingerbread man and woman, a sugar cookie girl, seven white swans, and a dancing man and woman atop a cake, but they are all still as stone. He is about to give up when he spots a door just his size. Inside, a mouse begins nibbling at him, so he runs out of the bakery with the mouse, the cat, the baker and his wife close behind!
After a close call, the Gingerbread Baby arrives back home. He hears some singing and sees a trail of cupcakes leading upstairs. To his joy, there are many friends waiting for him!
The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers by Lisa Campbell Ernst
In this sequel to The Gingerbread Girl, on the Gingerbread Girl’s birthday, the old man and woman who baked her give her a gift. When she unwraps it, she sees that it is a box of animal crackers. When the Gingerbread Girl opens the box, however, the animals leap out and speed out the door! The herd races by a nearby farm and the farmers join the chase. They are soon followed by a cat, a herd of sheep, a group of children, a hen and her chicks and a scout troop. Eventually, the crackers come face-to-face with the fox that the Gingerbread Girl managed to outsmart before. The situation looks dire until the Gingerbread Girl comes to the rescue with a plan!
The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine
In The Runaway Rice Cake, it’s the Chinese New Year, and the Chang family, Ming, Cong, Da, and their parents want to make nián-gão, a special type of New Year’s rice cake. However, they only have enough rice flour to make one. When the rice cake jumps up and escapes the house, the whole family chases it through the village. Finally, the rice cake and its pursuers run into a hungry old woman. Although little Da wants the treat for his own family, he decides to share the rice cake with the woman because she needs it more than him.
With nothing to eat for their own New Year’s celebration, the Chang family returns home. They find that the Kitchen God has left a surprise for them because of their generosity!
The Runaway Beignet by Connie Collins Morgan
In The Runaway Beignet, a lonely baker decides to sprinkle some magic sugar on a beignet and it comes to life! The beignet boy runs away and takes a trip through New Orleans, visiting famous landmarks along his journey. Students will love this book because it shows some of the landmarks of New Orleans. It also integrates some French words into the text for a more immersive experience.
The Runaway Tortilla by Eric Kimmel
In The Runaway Tortilla, Tia Lupe is making tortillas to eat for the taqueria. Her tortillas are so good that they are light as a cloud; so light, in fact, that one jumps right off the griddle and runs away! Tia Lupe and Tio Jose begin chasing the tortilla, and are soon joined by other animals: seis vaqueros, cinco cascabeles, cuatro conejos, tres burros and dos sapos cornudos, until the runaway tortilla finally comes face-to-face with a sneaky fox. Students will love this retelling of a classic tale that incorporates some Spanish vocabulary!
The Musubi Man: Hawaii’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama
In this Hawaiian version of the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man, The Musubi Man, a little old woman and a little old man live all alone in their home. The little old woman enjoys making their day’s food every morning. One day, when she makes a delicious musubi, it escapes and runs out the door! The musubi man runs past a poi dog, a mynah bird, and a mongoose before reaching a beach. Here, the musubi man nearly meets his match when he comes across a tricky surfer, but the story does not end as it may seem!
Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway
In the book Tough Cookie, Fox is wandering through Christmastown when he sees a sweet-looking sugar cookie escape from a bakery. The cookie taunts Fox and, since it looks tasty, Fox gives chase through the streets. The cookie proves to be slower than he thought and, as Fox soon discovered, not actually very tasty. The cookie begins to feel bad because he is not a delicious, fast cookie; he is really a slowpoke who tastes terrible. Fox decides to try to help the cookie, so they travel to the spa, run in the Sweet Treat Christmas Race, and try to build a gingerbread house. Nothing seems to go right and the activities leave Cookie feeling even worse about himself. Then, Cookie meets a group of ornaments and discovers where he really belongs!
Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
On Christmas Eve, Jim and his mother are making pirate cookies in the book Gingerbread Pirates. Jim brings his favorite cookie, who he calls Captain Cookie, close by his bed when he goes to sleep because he is too good to be eaten. When Jim falls asleep, Captain Cookie gets up to rescue his pirate crew from being eaten by Santa Claus! On his journey, Captain Cookie learns a little bit about what Christmas is, and finally he finds himself transformed into something a bit more permanent. Students will love this action-packed story about a pirate captain who rescues his crew from a gingerbread-loving Santa Claus!
The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle
In the book The Library Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Man always had a place inside his book on the library shelf. One day, he decides to leap from his book and run through the library. He passes many shelves, encountering creatures such as a word wizard, a giraffe, a robot, and a paper bird. Finally, the Gingerbread Man comes across a fox, who tries to eat him. Just in time, the librarian arrives to save the day! Students will enjoy this book because it teaches the importance of putting books back where they were found.
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
In Gingerbread Boy, there lived a little old woman and a little old man. They had no children of their own and they were lonely. One day, the little old woman decides to bake a Gingerbread Boy. However, as soon as she opens the oven to check to see if he is burnt, the Gingerbread Boy runs right out of the house! The Gingerbread Boy then encounters a cow, a horse, a group of threshers, and a group of mowers. Finally, the Gingerbread Boy is outsmarted by a tricky fox!
Can’t Catch Me by John and Ann Hassett
In this summer version of the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man, Can’t Catch Me, a runaway ice cube must escape the various thirsty creatures he encounters on his journey to the sea. The ice cub runs from a boy, an ant, a mouse, a cat, a goose, a man and a dog before reaching the sea. However, he soon realizes that maybe he won’t grow into an iceberg when he reaches the ocean as he had assumed!
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine
In this Chinese New Year tale, The Runaway Wok, Ming and his family do not have a lot of money. When Ming returns from the market with a rusted wok instead of food, his family wonders what they will eat for dinner. After Ming’s mom washes the wok, it rolls right out the door. It rolls straight to the richest family’s kitchen, and when it returns it is full of food! Again, it leaves the house and returns with toys from the rich man’s house. After the third trip, it returns full of gold coins. After the Zhangs have these new riches, they share it with their friends and neighbors. Finally, they can all have a grand Chinese New Year feast!
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
In Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby, a young boy named Matti is baking a gingerbread boy with his mother. Matti is so excited that he opens the oven too early and out jumps a gingerbread baby! Matti’s mother and father start to chase after the Gingerbread Baby. Soon, the whole village is trying to catch the Gingerbread Baby. Meanwhile, Matti is at home baking again.
The Gingerbread Baby runs through the village into a clearing where he sees a gingerbread house just his size. He runs inside the house and when everyone catches up, the Gingerbread Baby has disappeared. When Matti’s parents return home to tell him they couldn’t catch the cookie, Matti is a holding the gingerbread house and the Gingerbread Baby is happy living inside. I liked this book so much that I added it to my Starts With a Story collection!
These gingerbread man books are great read alouds to share with elementary students during the month of December. Students will be engaged and learning during a time of year when that can be challenging! Check out these gingerbread man books from your local or school library or find videos of them being read aloud on Youtube. It’s easy to access them for free using one of these avenues. Be sure to also check out the read aloud activities that go with the gingerbread man book, Gingerbread Baby!
The Gingerbread Baby book companion includes reading comprehension questions, SEL lesson ideas, digital activities, and much more!
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