There are tons of fun “gingerbread stories” from around the world- each with their own cultural twist and food. Finding similarities and differences when reading fairy tales from around the world hones kids’ critical thinking skills, and helps them to focus on the details.
Even the Common Core Standards includes this in one of their “Reading Literature” standards:
Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures (RL.2.9.).
There are many reasons to read fairy tales to children- especially because they’re whimsical, creative, and fun! Today we’re looking at Gingerbread stories.
In order to categorize and analyze fairy tales from around the world, Antti Aarne published the Aarne–Thompson tale type index (1910). One popular and recurring children’s folktale is based on the idea of the “Fleeing Pancake” (classified as AT-2025- also commonly known as gingerbread stories). This story was very popular around Europe during the 19th century, and the version of The Gingerbread Man was well-known in the US at the time.
Here are some reviews by well-known bloggers of different versions of the “gingerbread stories,” mixed into an extensive list of print (affiliate links), and then on-line versions. Choose a handful of stories, and ask your kids to compare and contrast the stories:
|Beginning: Who makes the food that runs away?|
|Main Character: What is the food?|
|Characters: Who tries to catch it?|
|Climax of the story: Who finally does catch it? Or does it get away?|
|What cultural details are unique in the story?|
Gingerbread Stories from Around the World
Ahlberg, Allan. The Runaway Dinner (UK) reviewed by Mud Hut Mama. In this hilarious story, the entire dinner (peas, carrots, fries, fork, knife, spoon, plate, table and chairs) runs away! A very silly story that your kids will ask you to read again and again. Read how Jody even replicated the dinner in the book for her kids, who wondered if their dinner would get up and run away.
Aylesworth, Jim. The Gingerbread Man.
Baumgartner, Barbara. Nursery Classics: Gingerbread Man.
Bochkov, Natasha. The Russian Runaway Gingerbread “Kolobok” (available in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and English) reviewed by Creative World of Varya. Varya has even included a recipe for traditional Russian Kolobok (Колобок), an easy to make small round bun featured in the book. I love pairing activities with the books, and food is always fun for the kids.
Brown, Marcia. The Bun, A Tale from Russia.
Capiuto, Natha. Roule Galette (in French) reviewed by the piri-piri lexicon. Annabelle did such a nice job of introducing this French version, sharing a cartoon version of the story, and showcasing a French galette with a kid-friendly recipe.
Cauley, Lorinda. The Pancake Boy: An Old Norwegian Folk Tale.
Cook, Scott. The Gingerbread Boy (Dragonfly Edition).
De Las Casas, Dianne. The Cajun Cornbread Boy (Louisiana, US).
Egielski, Richard. The Gingerbread Boy.
Esterl, Arnica. The Fine Round Cake.
Galdone, Paul. The Gingerbread Boy.
Howland, Naomi. The Matzah Man: A Passover Story.
Jacobs, Joseph. “Johnny Cake” in Tomie dePaola’s Favorite Nursery Tales.
Jarrell, Randall. The Gingerbread Rabbit.
Jones, Carol. The Gingerbread Man.
Levy, Janice. Runaway Radish is reviewed by All Done Monkey. I had no idea that in Oaxaca, Mexico, people carve radishes (like pumpkin carving in the US)! This radish tries to get away by running through a typical Mexican pueblito. Leanna piqued her son’s interest by conducting an experiment with real radishes, after reading the book.
Lithgow, John. Marsupial Sue Presents “The Runaway Pancake” (Australia)
Lobel, Anita, The Pancake.
Luna, James. The Runaway Piggy / El cochinito fugitivo. (bilingual, Mexico)
Rockwell, Anne. “The Gingerbread Man” in The three bears & 15 other stories.
Rowe, John A. The Gingerbread Man: An Old English Folktale.
Sawyer, Ruth. Journey Cake, Ho! (Picture Puffins)
Scieszcka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.
Sierra, Judy. Nursery Tales Around the World. These wonderful collection of gingerbread stories includes 3 versions of “Runaway Cookies:” The Gingerbread Man from the US, The Pancake from Norway, and The Bun from Russia (above photo).
Squires, Janet. The Gingerbread Cowboy reviewed by Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes ♫♫ “Giddyup, giddyup as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man”♫♫ A western twist: I love Frances’ cowboy
gingerbread cookies she made with her son to go with the book- what a sweet treat!
Steel, Flora Annie. “The Wee Bannock” in English Fairy Tales (UK)
Stolz, Mary. Pangur Ban (Ireland).
Takayama, Sandi. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man.
If you cannot get copies at your local library or bookstore, or prefer digital reading, here are 2 excellent sites I have found that include multiple versions of gingerbread stories that you can read on-line with your kids: