Friday, December 20, 2019

Book Club: The Gingerbread Pirates

cover of The Gingerbread pirates and pirate clipart

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I love reading children's Christmas books. There is a great deal of excellent choices and so many retellings of famous stories, too. Our library usually puts out books for each holiday on top of the children's bookshelves but for Christmas they have so many that they displayed them in a book rack. How exciting to pick through the books to find new ones to read with our children!

cover the book The Gingerbread Pirates and some salt dough ornaments being paintedOur son picked out The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and illustrated by Matt Tavares. This story is about Jim and his Pirate cookie captain that he creates with his mom. Jim and his mom bake cookies for Santa but instead of regular Gingerbread Men, they make pirate cookies!

During the night, on Christmas Eve, Jim's favorite Pirate cookie captain goes on an adventure and meets Santa. In the morning, Jim finds a wonderful new Pirate ship with a wooden captain with a cutlass and a peg leg to pilot the ship.

There are number of fun ways to expand upon the reading of the story with your children.


This year why not be creative with your cookie decorations? You can make unique characters instead of just regular Gingerbread men. Make pirates, ninjas, astronauts, cowboys and cowgirls, and all kinds of "people" using your cookie cutters.



Using the same basic Gingerbread cookie cutter, you can create your very own pirate salt dough ornaments.

We made our own ornaments using:

  • 1 cup flour
  • a little more than 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of salt 
We stirred the mixture till it formed a dough and then used a rolling pin to roll out the dough on wax paper. I recommend sprinkling a little extra flour so that the dough doesn't stick to the wax paper or the rolling pin.

salt dough ornament - goose cookie cutter being placed by small child

collection of salt dough ornaments on parchment paper - candy cane, rocking horse, goose, air plane, gingerbread man

I didn't bake the ornaments right away but let them air dry for a day. I finally baked them at the lowest setting on my oven checking them every half hour. I let them bake for about 2 hours.

Gingerbread cookie salt dough ornament painted
One of the characters in the story is called Dots. 

The next day we painted them and finally added the ribbon so we can hang them from the tree! 

Gingerbread cookie salt dough ornament hanging in Christmas tree

Family Discussion Time

After reading The Gingerbread Pirates, use the following questions to spur conversation with your children:

  • What was your favorite toy or present to find under the Christmas tree? 
  • What adventure would your Gingerbread men go on? 
  • What type(s) of cookie(s) do you leave for Santa? 
  • What are your favorite type of cookies? 

Do you have a favorite Christmas story to read with your little ones?


  1. I love your book extension ideas! Such a fun way to add in some learning.

  2. Great extension activities. Thanks for sharing!

  3. We loved that book! For the first few years we were homeschooling I tried to find a new Christmas book for us to read together each day in December. There are so many great ones out there.