The princess genre of books is a category that might make you wince. While it’s fun to watch our children dress up like royalty and prance around, the themes often associated with princesses can be a bit disturbing. Stereotypical princess stories often follow the same general outline: princess in trouble, prince saves the day, they live happily ever after. I think we can safely say we’re way past needing to be rescued or being trapped in a preconceived box.
The books listed below prove princesses are awesome, but not in the way you think. Like today’s modern-day Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or the forever beloved Princess Diana, not one is the traditional damsel-in-distress.
by Robert Munsch
This classic book shows that princesses are the perfect heroes. Princess Elizabeth is starry-eyed for Prince Ronald, and one day she intends to marry him. When he’s kidnapped by a wicked dragon and Elizabeth saves the day, things take a sour turn. Prince Ronald is not too pleased with her disheveled appearance or the reversal of roles. Will Elizabeth stick around and endure this maybe not so happily ever after? Or will she stay true to her messy, independent self?
by Cheryl Kilodavis
Dyson is different from the other boys. He loves sparkly things and dressing up like a princess. Sometimes he even wears his tiara when he’s climbing trees. This book helps communicate acceptance from a parental standpoint and encourages all readers to appreciate the most important person in our lives: ourselves.
“Kilodavis introduces the difficult themes of bullying and being different, based on the experiences of her four-year-old son. The book tells of a boy who ‘plays dress up in girly dresses’ and is laughed at when he wears them to school, but has the support of his family. It is tenderly written and simple enough to be understood by young children,” says Alison Donnelly of Collinsville Memorial Public Library.
by Jane Yolen
“Not All Princesses Dress in Pink” is a great reminder that even if the world has decided you should fit perfectly into the mold it has given you, it’s better to be yourself. The princesses inside this book can’t be pigeonholed. They wear black and red, have glasses, and sport short hair. They love camping, mud pies, and making huge messes. They defy the labels and the color pink.
“A joyful and much-needed antidote to the precious pink pestilence that has infested picture books aimed at girls,” says Kirkus Book Reviews.
by Dashka Slater
Not all girls are made of sugar and spice. Unlike the other princesses she knows, Princess Amanita loves danger and adventure. She evens grows poisonous things in her own backyard and is the owner of a delightful pet scorpion. When gentle Prince Florian shows up, roses in hand, the Princess is not quite sure how to respond…until she sees the thorns! Absurdity and independence ensue in this amazing book with unforgettable characters.
by Anna Kemp
Princess Sue is a sassy young lady who’s eager to meet her prince. When he finally arrives and she discovers that his expectations include turning her into something she’s not, she sets off on a different kind of adventure. With the help of a feisty dragon who quickly becomes her best friend, she’s determined to create the fairytale ending of her dreams. This is one of the funniest “non-princess-y” princess picture books on the list, which inspires children to take risks and never settle for someone else’s expectations.
by Babette Cole
Princess Smartypants wants to stay single forever. Marriage is for the other girls. Smartypants prefers her pets, yet her parents command her to find a husband. All her prospective grooms fail miserably until one very unique prince takes her by surprise.
“Princess Smartypants is having none of this being married off to a prince idea, and goes through a string of would-be suitors, terrifying, outwitting, and out-smarting them until she's able to live happily ever after without any prince at all,” says one Amazon reviewer.
Do you have a favorite princess book that you would recommend to other parents? If it’s not on the list, share in the comments!