Ah, the wonder of pancakes!!
Does any other breakfast treat arouse as much unabashed joy and anticipation among diners of all ages? Whether you call them hotcakes, griddle cakes, flapjacks, flatcars, or heavenly hots, the reaction is the same. Almost every culture in the world has its own version of the pancake (crepes, blinis, galettes), and they’re all special. They’re also pretty ancient, dating back to Roman times.
As far as children’s books, pancakes outnumber bagels, pies, and cookies. They are the perfect example of how a beloved food establishes instant reader interest and connection, reinforced by the power of sensual description.
The first pancake stories, which have a long history and dubious European origin, fall into the Aarne-Thompson 2025 folktale classification of fleeing food. Earliest recorded versions, such as “The Runaway Pancake,” date back to 19th century Germany and Norway. During this same period, the gingerbread man stories became popular in America. I suppose, then, we could rightly call pancakes the first “fast food.”
But I won’t let them get away from you today. Here are some of my favorite pancake picture books, hot off the griddle, and guaranteed to make your kiddos, ages 4-8, flip!