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Why Reading Different Versions of the Same Story Matters

Retellings and Fractured Fairytales

Children love listening to the same story over and over. How many times has your child asked you to read the same story three nights in a row? Fairytales, folktales and fables often fall into this beloved ‘read it again’ category. There is something just magical about listening to the stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood. This time of the year is perfect for pulling out one of my favorite fairytales, The Gingerbread Man. While it is not only the perfect holiday book, by reading different versions you can teach your child some foundational comprehension skills.

Start by gathering several versions of The Gingerbread Man (check out my list below for some suggestions). Don’t just stick with a retelling, but find some versions that are fractured fairytales, like Tough Cookie, by Edward Hemingway. Fractured fairytales are retellings that change the story in significant ways. They are often hilarious, tell the same story from a different character’s point of view and have some surprise endings. Don’t forget to explain to your child that you are reading a fractured fairytale and what it is. That way, in the future they will be able to point out when they are reading one. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing your child call out “look it’s a fractured fairytale,” after you have taught them what one is.

Reading Comprehension

Compare and Contrast:

As your child grows as a reader, it will be important for them to discuss the differences between characters, settings and different books they read. It’s valuable to start these conversations with early readers in an engaging and developmentally appropriate way. As you read each version you can discuss the differences and similarities between the different books. For example, The Gingerbread Boy, by Richard Egielski is a great connection for kids who live in the city. You can discuss how the setting, which takes place in the city instead of the countryside, influences the Gingerbread Boy’s actions. Besides comparing and contrasting the settings you can also compare different characters that appear. Have your child point out all the differences of each story you read.

Asking Questions:

It is always important to have your child think deeply and critically about the stories that they read. Open ended or opinion questions really get your child to think about the books they are reading. They also encourage your child to talk about books even after they are finished. Below are some sample questions you can ask you child after you have read The Gingerbread Man:

· Do you think the Gingerbread Man is naughty or nice?

· Was it nice that he ran away from the little old lady and little old man?

· Is the fox a bad guy for trying to eat the Gingerbread Man?

· How would you have tricked the Gingerbread Man, so that you could eat him?


Have your child write their own version of The Gingerbread Man. Before you start writing have them brainstorm the characters in the story. You can ask your child guiding questions before they write. For example, is the main character going to be a Gingerbread Girl? Maybe it could be a Sugar Cookie Cowboy instead! Will you have a fox be the villain? What happens if you tell the story from the fox’s point of view? Where will the story take place? Maybe on a beach in Hawaii? If they cannot write yet, you can write down the words and have them illustrate the pictures. Have them create a front cover and then staple the book together. You can place it in your child’s library. I promise it will be well read in there. Find a link to writing paper here:

Caldecott Connection:

Vote on your favorite version of The Gingerbread Man.

Home Connections

Truly falling in love with a book can make it become a living and breathing thing. This is a great time of year to transform your house into a Gingerbread Man house.


Bake gingerbread man cookies. Place the gingerbread (wo)men into pairs and count them by twos.


Have your child write down a list of decorations they need to make a gingerbread house.


Make a life size gingerbread house out of cardboard boxes (see picture below). After the paint has dried place the different versions of The Gingerbread Man in a bin with a flashlight inside the gingerbread house. Have it become a special reading spot until January. You can also put in comfy reading pillows and stuffed gingerbread man.


Using egg cartons, have them sort and count ‘gingerbread man’ buttons into different categories.

Gingerbread Man Books

The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires

The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Ernst

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray

The Gingerbread Pirate by Kristin Kladstrup

The Gingerbread Man by Paul Galdone

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

The Ninjabread Man by C.J Leigh

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