As a parent, I certainly allow my children to pick out the books they want both from the library and the bookstore. But I also try to subvert expectations a bit; if my son keeps reading books about boys, I will slip in a book featuring girls or add a nonfiction book about nature or a biography to a stack of picture books. When it comes to my favorite little princess, I am happy to read to her about princesses every day. But I am on the lookout for princesses who don't quite fit in the traditional box. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups
In this story, the princesses grow tired of their lives and decide to try someone else's for a while. Snow White hangs out in Rupunzel's tower, Rapunzel goes to the ball in Cinderella's stead, Cinderella gets some sleep instead of Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty goes to live with the dwarves for a while. Each one discovers that there are pluses and minuses to each kind of life. My favorite part is the real-world application, though; each princess figures out what will make her life a bit happier and takes steps to make it happen. Sleeping Beauty switches from spinning to knitting to save her fingers, Cinderella goes to college, and Snow White gives the dwarves a chore list (hey, they all live there!).
2. The Princess in Black
To the casual observer, Princess Magnolia is the perfect young royal. Her castle is beautiful, her dresses are pink, and she serves delicious hot chocolate to guests. But the princess has a secret: she is also the Princess in Black! Garbed in a black cape, she defeats any monsters who want to get into her kingdom. Of course, fighting monsters is not something that young princesses should be doing so Magnolia must hide her secret identity from everyone. This book (and the two that come after it) are laugh-out-loud funny and the perfect chance for mom and dad to perfect their voices, as you get to narrate for Magnolia, the suspicious Duchess Wigtower, and the young goat herder who is surprised when his flock almost becomes an appetizer!
3. Not All Princesses Dress In Pink
This picture book features princesses going about their normal kids lives, as they go to their soccer games, build a fort together, and play pretend. My daughter, at least, gets very caught up with the idea that all princesses need to wear frilly dresses all the time. So it's nice to remind her that a princess is still a princess when she's wearing cleats or muddy rain boots or overalls.
4. Princess Pigsty
Princess Isabella thinks being a princess is a bum deal. She is never allowed to get dirty, the dresses and crown are uncomfortable, and she would like for once to do something for herself! One morning, she rebels and declares that she will not wear her crown. Her father tries to teach her a lesson by sending her first to work in the kitchen and later, to work in the pigsty. But Isabella discovers that she loves both of those things. Can Isabella convince the king to allow a dirty, happy princess to be herself?
(Also check out The Princess Knight by the same author)
Do you have a favorite nontraditional princess story?