12 Perfectly Paired Gingerbread Man Books
Inside: This list of Gingerbread Man books is organized by grade and listed in pairs or groups of stories that are great to teach side by side.
We’re a little gingerbread crazy here. Every year we like to make gingerbread playdough in December. I also love that there are so many Gingerbread Man stories out there – with a variety of characters and endings. They are so much fun to compare and contrast with each other!
Earlier this fall, before there would be any demand, I checked out just about all the Gingerbread Man books my library system could provide.
We still have curbside pickup for library books, so I didn’t get to chat with the librarian who put the books in my car for me. I can only imagine what she was thinking… probably “who is this crazy lady checking out all the Gingerbread Man picture books in September?”
When I got home with the books, I made myself a chart and dove in, taking notes as I went.
You can see I should have given myself a little more room to write! (and maybe a few more columns)
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Comparing Gingerbread Man Books
The best thing about teaching with this popular folktale is that there are so many versions of it! That makes it really easy for children to compare and contrast setting, characters, illustration style, plot, and more.
The various endings means that it’s also fun to use these stories for making predictions. Will the gingerbread man get eaten or not?
I’ve put together pairs and groups of books for you by grade level, to make it easy for you to plan the perfect Gingerbread Man unit.
Each of the sections below starts with a traditional version of the story, and then adds in a second book (or two!) with a fun twist.
Gingerbread Man Stories for Preschool
For preschool gingerbread books, I picked the simplest and shortest choices. I also tried to find stories where the ending wasn’t too scary.
The Gingerbread Man by Beatrice Rodriguez
This is a simple version of the classic story, with cute illustrations and a not-scary fox.
The fox does eat the gingerbread man, who looks a little worried, but then on the next page there’s a recipe – so you can play up the fact that more gingerbread men can be made.
For comparison, I’d pair Rodriguez’s traditional version with one of these two non-traditional titles:
Keep Running Gingerbread Man by Steve Smallman
This upbeat gingerbread man story has an underlying message about being fit and active.
The people and animals chasing this gingerbread man are too sedentary to be able to keep up with him. Then the active fox catches up with him “in no time.”
In the end, the Gingerbread Man escapes and the fox teaches the other pursuers how to exercise.
The Ninjabread Man by Katrina Charman and Fabiano Fiorin
This advanced Early Reader would also make a good gingerbread man book read aloud to preschoolers.
In this story, an old man bakes the Gingerbread Man, and the cookie escapes each of his pursuers with ninja moves and a “Ka-Pow! Hi-Ya! And Shazam!”
In the end, the old man rescues the ninjabread man from the fox, and the ninjabread man goes on to become the star of the old man’s ninja school.
(Note that there are two completely different ninja gingerbread man books with this title – I’ll tell you about the other one below)
Easy Paired Stories for Kindergarten
There are two more classic Gingerbread Man books that make a solid starting point for students. These are a little more complex than the ones I listed for preschoolers, but still easy enough for young kindergartners to follow.
The Gingerbread Man by Louise Martin and Gail Yerrill
This version features lovely bright illustrations and clear, accessible language.
The fox does eat the Gingerbread Man in the end. He is slightly scarier looking than the Rodriguez version (above), but still not really a page-skipper except perhaps for your very most sensitive little ones.
The Gingerbread Man by Eric Kimmel
Kimmel’s retelling has a somewhat happier ending. A cute, dog-like smiling fox does eat the Gingerbread Man, but then there’s one more page featuring a whole batch of gingerbread men jumping off a baking pan.
This version is otherwise very much the classic one, with a farmyard chase and a cumulative refrain.
To add a comparison for one of the above two books, I’d add in one of the preschool comparison books (above), or this one:
Richard Scarry’s The Gingerbread Man
This friendly, down-to-earth Little Golden Book features some familiar-looking Richard Scarry characters, including a bear and a fox wearing clothes.
The fox gobbles up his cookie snack in the end, which the story tells us is “just what should happen to all gingerbread men!”
More Advanced Paired Stories for Kindergarten
If you have kindergartners who can sit for, and follow, a longer story, this section has a few more options for you.
To start, I’d use Eric Kimmel’s book (click here to jump back to it). Then I’d add in one or both of these:
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
This gorgeous book, written and illustrated in Brett’s typical Scandinavian style, is more complex than the basic storyline.
In Brett’s rendition, a boy opens the oven too soon, and out jumps a baby gingerbread cookie! He gives chase, and ends up being pursued by a somewhat scary looking fox.
Meanwhile – and the best part of this book is the ‘meanwhile’ – the boy is constructing a gingerbread house that the gingerbread baby takes refuge in.
The Ninjabread Man by C.J. Leigh
Leigh’s version is completely different than the one above with the same title. This story takes place in a “hidden dojo” where the sensei bakes a ninjabread man.
The title cookie then bests a bear, snake, and mouse with his superior ninja skills. We are left wondering whether the fox eats him or not – all that is left is a covering of powdered sugar, so I think he does.
Gingerbread Man Books for Elementary
For elementary students, I see two starting points. Eric Kimmel’s book would still be a solid choice (click here to jump back to it).
So would this next version:
The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth
With old-fashioned pen and ink illustrations and additional details to track, this story is better for early elementary than for younger students.
There’s no river to cross in this rendition. In the end, the fox captures the Gingerbread Man by asking him to walk closer so the fox can hear his taunt.
For a paired book(or books!) you have a few fun choices:
Gingerbread Man Superhero! by Dotti Enderle
This graphic novel style picture book is a wild ride – and wildly different from the traditional story. A Gingerbread Man with a dish towel cape and a prune for a tummy rescues brownies from an evil macaroon.
The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray
Actually, there’s a whole series of Gingerbread Man Loose at __ books, but I just checked out this one.
This rhyming, cartoon-style picture book is super cute. It’s also a very different storyline than the classic version. This thoughtful Gingerbread Man runs around town giving out gifts as fast as he can.
The Runaway Tortilla by Eric Kimmel
One more interesting choice is The Runaway Tortilla by Eric Kimmel. Set in south Texas, the main character is a freshly baked “light as a cloud” tortilla, rather than a gingerbread cookie.
The inevitable chase involves lizards, donkeys, jackrabbits, and cowboys (named in English and then repeated later in Spanish).
Finally, a coyote, rather than a fox, tricks the tortilla and eats it.
(And if you want additional international variants of this story, Kid World Citizen has this long list.)
Lastly, I think Gingerbread Baby would still be an excellent choice for this age group too. (click here to jump back up to it.)
Oh, and there’s one more little set of books I want to share with you. I have a printable, differentiated set of Gingerbread Man Emergent Readers in my store.
These are meant for mid-year kindergarteners and they’re best used after you’ve read aloud one of the traditional picture books.
I hope you found the perfect set of books for teaching with the gingerbread man this year.