The 641 Project: Gingerbread House Books at the Library


“The North Pole Library,” first place winner of the National Gingerbread House Competition, 2009.


If you’ve been following the 641 Project series The Gingerbread House Project, the talk about gingerbread and house building is making you think maybe about building your own house for the holidays.  I say, go for it!

Gingerbread house ideas, instructions and printable templates can be found easily on the web.  There are even videos that demonstrate different phases of construction.  If hard print is more your speed, the Clayton County Library System has a few books devoted to the art of the gingerbread house.  You may consult one or all of them to make a house or other goodies to show off your baking and decorating skills:

It’s a Gingerbread House : Bake it, Build it, Eat it! by Vera B. Williams

Carrie, Benny and Sam receive a gingerbread house from their grandfather.  When they eat it up before Christmas, they follow grandfather’s instructions for building a new house.

The story is an introduction to an excellent book for young readers/bakers.  With uncomplicated writing, kids should have no problem understanding the recipe and building instructions for baking and building a basic, seven inch tall house.  Like any recipe for any type of cooking, the recipe and instructions need to be read and studied thoroughly before beginning the project to achieve the best results.  The book suggests grown up assistance, especially when it comes to handling sharp knives and going into hot ovens.  Pictures show the tools, ingredients and assembly processes that should come in handy.

Making Great Gingerbread Houses by Aaron Morgan and Paige Gilchrist

Go ahead, say authors Morgan and Gilchrist, make a gingerbread house:  It’s good, messy fun!  Appealing to tactile, visual and olfactory senses, and even communal spirit, Morgan and Gilchrist convince the reader not to be intimidated by a seeming complex project, but to dive in and enjoy what is actually quite easy.  Step by step, they explain the basic house building process from mixing the dough to how to pipe icing.  From there on, your imagination’s the limit.

After the basics comes a full color gallery of gingerbread structure and tableaus.  The purpose is to inspire your own creations and/or how to achieve different effects (Patterns aren’t given for all of these houses, and in some cases not entire patterns).  The patterns given are not full sized:  You’ll need to enlarge many by two hundred percent on a photocopier.

The Gingerbread Book by Allen D. Bragdon

New to the Clayton County Libraries collection, The Gingerbread Book is a reprint of a 1984 book, and doesn’t appear to be revised:  the photos and print appear as they did nearly thirty years ago.  No matter really, because the ideas and most techniques have not changed significantly.

Bragdon’s premise is that gingerbread and gingerbread houses aren’t just for Christmastime.  To prove his point, he gives patterns for other holiday creations, ideas for party treats and centerpieces, and even some storybook scenarios.  He lists several different recipes for ginger cookies and cake – as well as for a building dough – and recounts an extensive history of gingerbread from the Middle Ages to the 1980s.

Sweet Dreams of Gingerbread by Jann Johnson

Author Jann Johnson believes as Allen Bragdon:  Decorated ginger cookies aren’t just a Christmas thing.  She too takes gingerbread around the calendar with the traditional holiday houses and décor pieces – such as a train, stockings, and Santa with sleigh and reindeer – as well as patterns for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Gingerbread men and women can be decorated for all seasons and occasions.

Johnson offers thorough but concise techniques for baking and building, with several different recipes for dough and icings for variety.  Color pictures and pointers accompany each project.  Attention must be given to copying patterns, as many overlap or must be pieced together from separate pieces.

This title is the one that I own and am using for my project (though I have gleaned tips and ideas from the other books listed).  It’s not in the CCLS collection, but can be requested through PINES; it’s also available from online book vendors.


Click the titles above to see the PINES catalog record for call number and availability.  Ask the staff at your nearest library for assistance.

Except for Making Great Gingerbread, these books direct the reader to trace the patterns from its pages.  I recommend photocopying instead to preserve the book; plus, it’s easier to make extra copies of templates.  If you must trace, lay a sheet of clear plastic over the page, then lay your tracing paper on top of the plastic and trace away.

Follow my baking adventure on The Gingerbread House Project blog.  Click here.


Babies Are Smart & Learn Through Play

Alison Gopnick, professor of psychology at Berkeley and the author of The Philosophical Baby recently wrote an op-ed piece in the N.Y. Times, “Your Baby Is Smarter Than You Think,”  Children learn through play and “play with those things that will teach them the most.”   One of the ways that Clayton County babies can “Play with a Purpose” is to participate in the weekly “Baby Talk” sessions conducted most Thursday mornings at 10 a.m. at the Clayton County Headquarters Library for infants–from newborns to age 20 months. Most series last 8 weeks and a parent (or grandparent or other individual adult) needs to register for the entire series. Activities consist of  playing with educational toys and bubbles,  singing songs and rhymes, and sharing simple stories and books with “cardboard” pages. Staff also uses the Souns letter system,

In order to ensure the safety of the infants, no older siblings may attend and the number of babies who participate in a series is limited to 20. Both parents may attend if they wish but child care providers should speak with staff about scheduling a separate story time. Toddlers ages 21-36 months are invited to register for the weekly  10 a.m. series on Tuesdays and ages 3-6 are invited to register for the preschool story time on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

To register for the series, call 770 473 3850 and ask for the Youth Services desk or email Bea Mengel,

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mother Goose Hits the Road

Our very own Mother Goose (a.k.a. Ms. Judy) has been travelling around Clayton County visiting child care centers and sharing her rhymes and stories with children.  Although Mother Goose Day is on May 1st each year, she believes that these wonderful nursery rhymes should be shared year round.  Unfortunately, she could not find her goose, who likes to hide all the time, so she enlisted the help of her good friend Duck to go along on her travels to the different schools.  As you can imagine, Duck did not mind one bit.  Here is a picture of the two of them before a storytime:
Mother Goose 2

These are some of our favorite Mother Goose books that you can share:

Here Comes Mother Goose by Iona Archibald Opie

My First Real Mother Goose Bedtime Book

Nursery Rhyme Book by Beatrix Potter

Teddy Bears' Mother Goose by Michael Hague

Dona Blanca and other Hispanic Nursery Rhymes and Games by Isabel Schon

Riddledy Piggledy by Tony Mitton

We have many Mother Goose and other nursery rhyme books in our collection.  Visit one of your local libraries to find these and more!  Remember, if you need help finding them there is always someone at each of our branches who will be more than happy to help you find just what you're looking for.

Published in: on October 29, 2007 at 7:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Power Parenting! Gangs 101

The recent increase in gang activity, school violence, and juvenile crime in our area begs us to pay attention to the organic nature of what pulls children and teens to join a gang, and to live a life that has numerous negative connotations and consequences. Gang activity is a quick fix for these hurting and confused young people; in theory, they appear to offer solutions to problems.

Gangs offer stability, peer contact, immediate acceptance, loyalty, and a “family” for kids that are struggling with their identity and with unanswered questions about their future, and relationships. Did you know that the average age of recruitment into a gang is 9 years old?!

As parents today, you can get your message of safe choices, values, and sound decision making across! You can compete against the “bling” and flash of the messages your kids are hit with every day!

Join us at the Headquarters Library on Monday, August 13th from 6:30 – 8:30 for this important discussion on gangs, the impact of loss on your family, and get some “Power Parenting!” tips and skills under your belt; facilitated by Project KARMA, Inc & Ex.G.R.E.S.S. Consultants.

Project KARMA, Inc. is a non-profit organization created to support at-risk young people aged 5-18, facing loss and gang involvement.

Ex.G.R.E.S.S. Consultants was created and structured by an ex-gang member and a partnership between concerned experts in mental health, child development and law enforcement.

Published in: on July 5, 2007 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Resume Writing Workshop


Working on your resume? About to start your resume? Want to polish off your resume? Then join us at the Headquarters Library for tips & techniques on writing an effective resume!

Mr. Marcell Ausborn, the CEO and Owner of the Hampton based firm, Solutions in HR, will be facilitating two free resume seminars at the Headquarters Branch in July. Mr. Ausborn is a senior Human Resources professional with over 20 years of experience in HR management in Government and private industry.

Dates: Fridays, July 6th and 20th
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
Where: Headquarters Branch Meeting Room
Note: Registration is required at the Information Desk.
Phone: 770-473-3850

Published in: on June 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment