Let’s talk about the empowering princess. I’ve got a little preschooler who loves princesses. I mean LOVES. Flouncy dresses, sparkly tiaras, and glittery castles. Really, the more fairy in these tales, the better. Yet, when we recently cracked open a Disney-themed princess picture book about beautiful brides, the story line was, sadly, less than lackluster.
Damsel in distress…an all too common tale
While these female characters were charming in their own way, that’s about it. I read on and was slightly horrified that the book’s message promoted nothing but superficial beauty, perfectionism, and manners. So it got me thinking…how balanced is our daughter’s princess literature exactly? And what messages are our books sending to her very-impressionable preschool mind?
Thankfully, the Portsmouth Public Library and their fabulous staff are not far from home. Upon a visit to the reference desk in the children’s area, I was presented with several recommendations. As we left we were nearly skipping with joy, eager to read aloud our new stack. Turns out, empowered princess books are on-trend these days and it’s never been a better time to explore pro-girl titles in children’s literature.
Our Roundup of 7 Powerful Princess Picture Books:
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood
This rhyming storybook follows the age-old tale of Cinderella, but with a delightfully futuristic spin. Cinderella is a spaceship mechanic and she isn’t looking to be rescued- or married- by anyone anytime soon. Interstellar Cinderella encourages independent thinking, creativity, and self sufficiency.
Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz
A beginner’s illustrated chapter book, the story of Princess Cora is as funny as it is empowering. Sick of the mundane schedule that her princess duties require, Cora is exasperated and frustrated by the expectations of her royal life. When a wish for a dog goes awry, Cora quickly learns to use an opportunity, and her voice, to change her royal course. This clever story promotes self-advocacy, the importance of outdoor play, and effective communication.
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett
When a baby princess and a piglet are switched at birth, all traditional notions of fairy tale endings go out the window. This silly, yet tongue-in-cheek tale will amuse parents and spark the imagination of preschoolers. This picture book encourages a deeper look at inner beauty, honesty, and integrity.
I Am Truly by Kelly Greenawalt
While not a conventional fairy tale, this vibrant book features a confident young princess character who is assured of her many strengths and capabilities. I Am Truly will get your preschooler thinking about what she can do versus what she can’t.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
A beloved classic, this unconventional princess story involves a self-centered prince, a meddling dragon, and a very determined pint-sized highness who won’t back down when faced with fire. The Paper Bag Princess teaches self-advocacy, humility, and throws a nod to gender equality.
Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
If you want a good chuckle, snag a copy of this storybook. Princess Pinecone is slightly disappointed when her warrior horse is not all that she had hoped for. But Pinecone is pleasantly surprised when her pony proves it’s adorable worth.
Princess Furball by Charolette Huck
An oldie but a goodie, Princess Furball is the story of a princess who is betrothed to a terrible and greedy ogre. Using her wit and three special gifts, Furball runs away and becomes a talented chef in an effort to make her own fate.
Looking for More?
Visit your own local library to delve into more empowering, pro-girl fairy tales. You can also check out A Mighty Girl; an online resource dedicated to promoting books, toys, and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls. Comment with your own preschooler’s favorites!