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Princess books you'll actually want your daughter to read

Six Books for Princesses

I’m totally smitten with the reading list Janssen has curated for us this week.  Whether you’re pro-princess or princess averse, we all want princesses with qualities our kids can look up to!

Question of the Day

Has your daughter gone through a princess phase?  If so at what age did it strike and how long did it last?

If you have a little girl, you probably can’t avoid the princess scene altogether. Even if you don’t introduce your child yourself to the world of ball gowns, glass slippers, and bossing subjects around, someone is certain to gift them a princess dress, show them a princess movie, or invite them to a princess party.

The good news is that not all princesses are created equal, and this is just as true in the picture book section as it is elsewhere. There certainly are some books that you might hesitate to share with your child, but there are lots that are quite wonderful and demonstrate the kinds of qualities I’d be more than delighted to see my daughters develop.

These six picture books are all ones that I’m perfectly comfortable sharing with my two little girls:

  1. Part-Time Princess by Deborah Underwood and Cambria Evans. During the day, this little girl leads an ordinary life, but at night, she’s off to act as princess, where she invites a dragon to tea, tames the trolls (turns out they just love to dance and want to be invited to the ball!), and takes a bath with dolphins. I love this fun, sweet story.
  2. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko. This classic princess story is still delightful, twenty-five years after it was published, about a princess who, after her fiance is captured by a dragon, seeks out the dragon and defeats him.
  3. Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley, Carol Heyer and Scott Goto. A boy and a girl are supposed to tell a story together, but they’re having a hard time agreeing on how it should go. Will it be princesses? Giants? The two eventually work it out, with a story that will make you laugh on every page. I love this one, especially with the two very contrasting illustration styles that accompany the story.
  4. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer and Josee Masse. This is one of my favorite books – it is so clever and fun you’ll find yourself looking at it without your kids! Each set of poems in this book tells a fairy tale, but from two different points of view. Cinderella, for instance, gets her poem, followed immediately by the disgruntled view of the stepsisters. What really sets this book apart is that each set of poems uses EXACTLY the same words, but the second poem uses those words backwards. It’s almost like magic to see how well this works (if you’re having a hard time picturing this, you can check out an example on my blog).
  5. The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene. Hilariously pulling in details from famous fairy tales, this story follows the uproar that occurs after the new baby princess is accidentally switched with the farmer’s new baby piglet. The princess grows up happily on the farm, but the piglet doesn’t fare quite so well in the castle. . . .
  6. Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joosse and Randy Cecil. This is a perfect bedtime story with a little princess who dreams of having a dragon for a friend. A lonely dragon follows the trail of princess tears back to her castle and the two become fast friends. The illustrations are soft and sweet, just right for closing out a busy day.

Do you have any favorite princess stories?


Has your daughter gone through a princess phase?  If so at what age did it strike and how long did it last?



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Janssen is a former librarian and avid reader who is always maxing out her library card. She now stays at home with her two-year-old daughter (with another girl on the way) and blogs about books for readers of all ages, her favorite recipes, and parenting adventures at Everyday Reading.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Joelle April 22, 2013 at 4:36 am

Can I add ‘Zog’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler? It’s a fantastic book about a dragons school and features a princess and a knight who both aren’t happy in their roles and go off to become flying doctors with a dragon ambulance. The rhyming text, charming illustrations and humour are just part of what make this writer-illustrator pairing always a favourite.


Allison April 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Thank you for the great suggestions.
These books really do convey a lovely kind of princess message but…do you know of any positive princess books where the main character is not white?


Michelle September 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

The Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray is a wonderful story. Has a great message.


missredsage April 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Thank you thank you for this, my daughter is just going in to the princess phase now (shes 3 1.2 years old) and I’ve been looking for ways to honour that without going the traditional “marry the prince” story. Its not easy!


Quinn April 23, 2013 at 12:26 am

I loved The Paper Bag Princess when I was a kid. Iused to read it to my son and now read it to my daughter! I love your book lists, we checked out several of your spring books from our local library. The Curious Garden and Old Bear were huge hits.


Nicole April 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

thank you for these suggestions. Of them, I have read the Paper Bag Princess which my 2 1/2 year old daughter, husband, and I have all enjoyed. My Daughter seems to have been born fascinated with princesses! I was hoping to read more responses from experienced parents’ to the whole princess phase. Although knowing myself I am not sure that it is a phase. I will share that it has been my plan to instill a sense of genuine self worth and whole hearted living by being the example. I have read there is no other way to be more effective at this than to be the person you would like your child to become. Sometimes we have to work at it but, hey that’s a good life lesson too. We all know as we hear and see ourselves in our children’s play that we are their biggest influences. So, I hope that my daughter feels free to embrace her princess fantasies but, cultivate genuine self worth to always be her foundation.


Nicole April 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

BTW The Practical Princess by Jay Williams and Friso Henstra is another good read for girls!


Amira's mom April 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm

We have read most of these and love them. I also read my daughter ( 3 1/2) chapter books at night and the series Whatever After has three of the “traditional” princess stories witha slightly different take showing the strong character of the princesses rather than just the fluff. My daughter really enjoyed them.


Heather C April 26, 2013 at 9:26 am

We recently found Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple. It just popped off the shelf at the library at me. It shows princesses playing sports, building things, playing with pets in the mud, etc. All with “a sparkly crown.” It also has princesses of several races, which is nice to find.


Maggie April 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I love the paper bag princess!! I remember it from my childhood and recently found a copy at the op shop. Memories. I love reading it to my little boy.


Kelly @ IdealistMom.com April 29, 2013 at 9:49 am

Thank you for this list! I just pinned it. :-) We have the Paper Bag Princess, but I’m looking forward to checking these others out!


Catherine May 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Our princess phase started around three and now at nearly five is pretty much over. One of our favourite ‘non princessey’ princesses is The Kite Princess by Juliet Clare Bell (I have a review on my blog).

I love the cover of The Princess and the Pig :) We like The Paper Bag Princess too.


Katelyn July 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I only have a 3 year old boy so no princess play here, but I wanted to add a princess series I enjoyed very much growing up. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede is a series of 4 books about a very intelligent princess who runs away from home because she doesn’t was to marry the boring prince her parents have picked to become a dragon’s princess. There are lots of interesting characters including a nice witch with lots of cats and various princes who try to “rescue” the princess from the dragon she works for. The series is best for the middle school child and is shelved in the young adult section of our library. I reread this series multiple times when younger and though it’s now a very quick read I enjoy picking it up again every now and then as an adult.


Mindy May 30, 2014 at 12:50 am

Thanks for the suggestion. My four year loves to listen to longer stories and we have started reading chapter books like Charlottes Web. This series sounds like it would be more of what we are looking for!


Mindy May 30, 2014 at 12:48 am

I pinned this and I am looking forward to reading some of the titles we don’t have with my four year old. She hit her princess stage at 2 and while it is still going strong she has many other interest as well. I am not sure why so many worry about a “princess” attuide. My daughter has seen pretty much everyndisney princess movie and we read princess stories all the time. Yet she has not devolved any sort of attudie. She is thoughtful and very genours to others. She gets a little bossy with me from time to time, but her teacher at pre-school has never had any issues what so ever with her. I think it is important to teach our girls that being a princess is about being kind hearted and good to others. I love that my daughter enjoys being a princess, and I don’t view it as a bad thing.


Margret July 6, 2014 at 7:32 am

Glad to see the Paperbag Princess up there! I recently found a copy at the opshop and remember it from my childhood. So good.


Kristin July 14, 2014 at 5:09 am

I love “Do Princesses Wear Hiking boots?” by Carmela LaVigna Coyle. It is a wonderfully sweet book about a little princess loving girl questions about what a princess does – things that aren’t typical princess things. The author has a few other princess books, which we have a couple of (“Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs?” and “Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?”). She also has a wonderful book for boys “Do Super Heros Have Teddy Bears?” which we also have and love.


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