I fretted about my girls and their obsession with princesses (read about those frets here) for years. I worried their young hearts would pick up the subtle messages of those stories. As a story lover, I wanted them to know the stories because they are a part of our culture. As a mom, the messages of “happiness is finding a prince” and “look beautiful and dress fancy no matter what” disturbed me. By the time I started thinking seriously about these issues, they had seen every Disney princess movie except Snow White and Sleeping Beauty(the dragon was way too scary for my oldest who has a very vivid visual memory). Not wanting to ban the princesses, I searched for other, less traditional princess stories to share with my kids and broughten their view of what a princess could be.
I’ve listed the alternative stories below using links to Amazon, but I hope you use your library first. Find out if you and your girl really love these stories enough to spend money on them. All of them change the traditional princess role in different ways. I wonder if your girl will like them? I sure did.
Oh and now that my girls are older and out of the princess stage? I don’t think that toddler obsession harmed them a bit. They definitely don’t expect a prince to come and rescue them from anything!
by Carmela La Vigna Coyle
This is the first alternative princess book you might read. It is aimed at the younger crowd of 2-4. It isn’t really a story as much as a poem about what a princess can do…which is really just about anything. It is a cute story with fun illustrations. If you love it, check out the other books in the series, Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs? and Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?
A dear friend, knowing I was struggling with the power of Disney princesses, found this book for my girls. It’s a beautiful book aimed at 4-8 year-olds and a bit longer than most books for little girls which makes it a great sick day, snuggle book. It redefines the life of a typical princess and helps the reader understand that a princess doesn’t get her rank from beauty, good manners, or even conversation skills. Her father is the reason she is a princess. And yes, the book will lead you right into the discussion of being God’s princess. There are two more books in the Princess Madison series; we have not read them, but I’ve put them on our list since I just discovered them today!
This book has all the sap and beauty of a traditional princesses story. But retold with God as part of the story. The princess’s “kiss,” a sort of glowing thing in a little bag, is the precious gift she will one day give her husband. She must save it for him. The princess sees that most of her suitors would not value her kiss or were not worthy of it. When a common man asks to see the princess, he tells about his humble life and how he has watched and prayed for a wife. He offers her his kiss (again in a glowing bag). The two are married. While the story isn’t perfect, it offers a fun way to start a conversation about the future prince in your daughter’s life.
The King holds a contest to find a husband for his daughter. He designs a competition “to determine which knights possess great courage and strength, deep loyalty and kindness, and most of all a deep faith in God.” Three knights are left by the last test. They must pretend they are carrying the princess and see how close they can get to the edge of a cliff without going over. *spoiler alert*The winner is the one who says he would not go near the cliff with the princess. The story is sweet and I love the role of the king in choosing a knight and the daughter’s willingness to trust him. This story is the prettiest of the books, with the fanciest princess and most beautiful illustrations.
I love the idea of a story where girls learn that men who only value them for their looks are a waste of time. Do I hear an amen? Here’s the summary from Amazon:“Elizabeth, a beautiful princess, lives in a castle and wears fancy clothes. Just when she is about to marry Prince Ronald, a dragon smashes her castle, burns her clothes with his fiery breath, and prince-naps her dear Ronald. Undaunted and presumably unclad, she dons a large paper bag and sets off to find the dragon and her cherished prince. Once she’s tracked down the rascally reptile, she flatters him into performing all sorts of dragonly stunts that eventually exhaust him, allowing her to rescue Prince Ronald. But what does Prince Not-So-Charming say when he sees her? “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.” (At least he has the courtesy not to mention that the princess’s crown resembles a dying sea anemone.) In any case, let’s just say that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Ronald do not, under any circumstances, live happily ever after. Canadian author Robert Munsch celebrates feisty females everywhere with this popular favorite, and Michael Martchenko’s scratchy, comical, pen-and-ink drawings capture the tongue-in-cheek quality of this read-aloud crowd pleaser. (Ages 4 to 8) —Karin Snelson ” YES!
Sadie: The Paper Crown Princess by Amanda N. Evans is a story about a girl who is in a princess-in- training school. She loves sparkles and sports and climbing trees. Her big ideas sometimes get in the way of her earning her crown. This story shines when Sadie gets to the final examine where she is asked to act like a princess in a real world. When Sadie chooses to abandon the rule of which fork to use and instead follow her heart about being a princess and help hungry children, you will cheer. The story is a bit long and wordy. A new reader will definitely need this one read aloud.