Little girls often have a bit of a thing about princesses. Which can be a problem if your aim is to raise your daughter to believe she can be anything she wants to be (rather than encouraging her to sit around looking pretty and helpless until rescued by a handsome prince). But fairy tale princesses don’t have to be pathetic, it all depends on the story.
Here is my selection of books for 2-6 year olds that feature sassy princesses, with attitude and intelligence, perfect for empowering your little girls.
This might be a little bit American for UK readers, but I love the rhyming in this book and it’s clear focus on the idea that it is ok for girls to wear whatever they want – whether that is crowns or football boots! Given how much attention is paid to little girls’ physical appearance and general prettiness, Not all princesses dress in pink (Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple) is a good antidote.
Don’t kiss the frog is an anthology of stories which aim to push the envelope when it comes to little girls’ thinking. Some of the stories are more progressive than others (there are a few too many happy-ever-after marriages to princes for my taste) and there are still lots of gender stereotypes, for sure. But it is a lot better than your usual princess fare and a great book for sparking questions and conversations.
I love the contemporary feel of the little girl in this board book (despite the slightly old fashioned illustrations) and its core message that it is who we are on the inside that matters most. Do princesses wear hiking boots? (by Carmela LaVigna Coyle) is ideal for younger girls (2-4 years) and is part of a series which also includes Do princesses scrape their knees? and Do princesses really kiss frogs?
Princess Smartypants is a very independent-minded princess who doesn’t stick to conventions. She neatly subverts traditional fairy tale plots by taking control and outwitting her princely suitors. When all is said and done, this is still a story about a pretty thin woman looking for her ideal man, but nevertheless a fun and empowering read. And if you like the first Princess Smartypants (by Babette Cole), there is a whole series to explore.
Every little girl should be read this book! It’s funny, well-written, with great illustrations and a powerful message that princesses (aka women in general) can be resourceful and resilient and do not have to put up with rubbish from their princes! Choose the paperback version (not the board book) for the full story. The Paper Bag Princess is by Robert Munsch.
If your daughter is shy, you might want to check out these Children’s books about shyness or Books for helping children manage friendship problems. Got an older daughter (7yrs+)? Then check out the Courageous Princess stories for sassy role models for older girls or these Best brave novels to inspire teenage girls. And – although all the stories above are eminently suitable for boys too – you might also like to explore these Books for raising empathetic boys.
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This is not a sponsored post – these are all books that I personally recommend. It does however contain affiliate links which means that if you click through and buy the book I will receive a small fee(see Disclosure Notice for more info).