Books can give you lifeskills: Never underestimate a good sandwich

Many libraries and schools will have a shelf labelled something like “When a book might help“, with titles covering everything from Adoption to Asthma, Teasing to Twins, and beyond. But there’s also a very important space for books which give you practical life skills… like how to make a mean sandwich.

I jest not 😉

Very many kids (and their grown-ups) have sandwiches every day, so why not use the following trio of tasty books as an opportunity for some hilarious shared reading before getting out the bread and butter and helping the kids to learn to make their own lunch.

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The Disgusting Sandwich by Gareth Edwards (@garethmammal) and Hannah Shaw (@hannahweasel) is a wickedly stomach-churning story of a lost sandwich, perhaps the most revolting sandwich ever. Badger has come upon it in the park and to all intents and purposes seems very keen to eat it despite the goop, slime and mud. Will he really put it in his mouth? Would YOU put it in your mouth?

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Spider Sandwiches by Claire Freedman (@clairefreedman) and Sue Hendra continues to racks up the yuck factor, with a dinner time tale of a mucky monster who takes great pleasure in eating all things foul and foetid. Is there anything he won’t eat?

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Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich by Pieter Gaudesaboos and Lorraine Francis explores engineering, with Sammy’s quest to build the tallest tower, the most sizeable stack of sandwiches the world has ever seen. But is he going to eat them all?

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All three books end with clever twists we didn’t see coming. All made us laugh, but only Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich actually made us hungry. The gross factor of the first two was ironically delicious, whilst the pictorial spread of the latter had all the joy of a Richard Scarry book with the aesthetic of Alain Gree. The chirpy rhyming text of Spider Sandwiches alongside its bold, instantly recognisable Sue Hendra illustrations ensure it will work especially brilliantly as a classroom read aloud whilst the glorious details in The Disgusting Sandwich and Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich will be lapped up by individuals as they pore over the pictures.

A very special serving of books. I’d recommend them ALL for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Unsurprisingly, these books cried out for practical sandwich creations. So, with the only proviso being that whatever sandwiches they made, they had to try themselves, we laid the table with bread, spreads, ham, cheese and sliced vegetables and the girls were let loose on a sandwich-making spree.

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They were delighted with the knowledge that their parents would eat whatever they created. I tried not too look at what they were sneaking in between the slices of bread!

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From learning how to slice bread, cheese and vegetables, to a little bit of food chemistry (what goes well together and what doesn’t, for example chorizo and chocolate) the kids not only learned and practised new skills, they felt so grown up creating food for us all.

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And then the stacking began…

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Bon appetit!

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Whilst making and eating our sandwiches we listened to:

  • Sand in My Sandwich by Princess Katie & Racer Steve
  • Sandwich Rock by Bob King (you can listen for free here on MySpace)
  • Sandwiches by Fred Penner


  • Other activities you could enjoy alongside reading these sandwich books include:

  • Whipping up some edible spider sandwiches, courtesy of this recipe on education.com
  • Going on a slug hunt (this will make sense once you’ve read The Disgusting Sandwich ). Here’s a guide to UK slugs, US slugs and you simply must check out this amazing pink Australian slug
  • Role playing sandwich shops with plastic toy food, or making some felt sandwich fillers (a free tutorial and patterns can be found on Snazzle Craft), or treating yourself to some wooden sandwich toys!
  • And don’t forget to look out your copy of the quintessential sandwich book, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway.

  • My favourite sandwich is ciabatta bread, with fried chorizo, grilled peppers and rocket. What’s yours?

    Disclosure: I received all three books as free review copies from their respective publishers.

    8 Responses

    1. What a terrifically unusual theme for a book and activity-round-up! And such a simple way of getting kids involved in making their own food. Great post!
      Bookaholic Mum recently posted..Picture Book Review: The Pirates Next Door – The Jolley-Rogers by Jonny Duddle

    2. I always tried to include sandwich making at some point in the year when I was teaching Reception. Usually in the context of making sandwiches for a teddy bear’s picnic but it’s good to know that there are other sandwich making books to help stimulate the activity – sandwich making is such an important life skill!
      Catherine recently posted..Dixie O’Day In the Fast Lane – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy

    3. Hi Bookahalic Mum, yes, I was amazed that this year there were 3 books about sandwiches, AND that they are all very good ones!

      Catherine, great to hear you used to do sandwich making in school. I bet the kids loved it.

    4. Ha! Boys immediately wanted to make a giant sandwich after seeing ‘Sammy’ and I keep meaning to buy a few loaves and set them to it. Did the chef’s eat their creations in the end? No sandwich beats the one you make for breakfast on Boxing Day in my opinion. Everything goes in. Even cold sprouts. mmmm
      Polly recently posted..Maps

    5. Polly, wrt to the sprouts, you really need to read Spider Sandwiches… I can say no more!

    6. I love how books can stir curiosity and expand the imagination! These look very appealing!

    7. THAT is an impressive looking sandwich! I’m hungry now after reading this!
      Emma Day recently posted..F&F Children’s Partywear Review

    8. […] are a great way to teach kids life skills, emotional literacy, compassion. . .and you know, other deeply important things. (Also somehow I’d never read Playing By the Book. It’s never too […]

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