My daughters, like most little kids, have a wide variety of interests. They love everything from dressing up to fishing and camping. They can’t really be pinned down to one ‘type’. In fact, my youngest likes to carry her toy race cars around in a pink, frilly purse.
One of their greatest interests is princesses. They adore them. And since I try to let them explore just about everything and anything, I’ve been pretty okay with the princess obsession. That is, until they started bringing home book after book about princesses from their school library last year. I have nothing against the occasional good old princess story—but I quickly grew tired of reading the same story day in and day out. Which is why I sought out some princess books with a twist.
Luckily, I was able to find some great books that feature princesses who are smart, strong, think for themselves, and love who they are. All great messages I want my daughters to digest while they read.
Here are five of my favourite fun, cute, and empowering princess books. My girls range in age from 3-6, and these picks are all appropriate for—and enjoyed by—all of them. And while I enjoy these books with my three girls, I’m confident that these stories of smart, funny heroines would be beloved by boys of that age, too.
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? By Carmela LaVigna Coyle, illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon.
I love this one because the cute pictures and rhyming language illustrate that the definition of a princess is what you make of it. It’s a light, easy way to inspire children to be who they want to be.
Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
In this story, Cinder Edna lives right next door to the famous Cinderella, which sets the stage for a pretty strong comparison between two very different women. Cinder Edna is smart, spunky and pretty sure of herself—which I love. The story also has some major silliness to it—which my kids love.
Don’t Kiss the Frog! Princess Stories with Attitude Compiled by Fiona Waters
This collection of stories is one of my daughters’ most favourite books. The illustrations make it feel the most ‘storybook’ out of all of our princess books. And the funny tales feature characters with real traits (clumsy, brave, sporty girls) who do everything from conquering dragons to taking part in jousting tournaments.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
This classic is well-loved in our home. Robert Munsch is really great at telling stories that make kids double over with laughter, while also incorporating a great lesson. (Although, every time I get to the end, my four-year-old asks me why Elizabeth calls Ronald a bum. That’s an interesting one to explain in four-year-old terms!)
The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene
This is a funny, well-told story about what it’s like to grow up as a princess in a castle and as a poor, but happy, child of farmers. We all love the illustrations and I especially adore the lesson that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with being a royal princess.