Just because she’s your little princess doesn’t mean your daughter is interested in waiting around for some guy in fancy tights to declare her rescued. Maybe your little princess dreams of conquering nations. Maybe she’s a born knight and hates those stupid frilly hats. In a world where outdated gender norms are disappearing like office bar carts, only one rule remains ironclad: you can’t use Game Of Thrones to illustrate these concepts to your kids. Instead, read your aspiring dragon queen one of these 9 books that subvert antiquated fairy tale stereotypes and teach her to take what is hers with fire and blood.
The Paper Bag PrincessThis classic (more than 3 million sold, and counting) describes not only how a princess can flip the script and outsmart a dragon to save a prince in distress, but also how a princess can put an obnoxious prince in his place when he doesn’t appreciate her effort. All while wearing nothing but a paper bag, proving that, like heroes and capes, not all princesses wear dresses.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko ($7)
The Secret Lives Of PrincessesFrom the nation that brought you well-behaved kids who sleep and eat like normal people comes this volume of wonderfully weird, “lesser-known” princesses. Like the violin-shaped Princess Do-Re-Mi, the forgetful Princess Oblivia, or the demanding Molly Coddle (the Princess And The Pea’s cousin). Detailed illustrations and sidebar expositions on loads of princessly topics will encourage repeat viewings from any kid who’s creative, eccentric, or slightly left of center. (Sure, including you.)
The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechermeier and Rébecca Dautremer ($12)
The Princess KnightA young princess who’d rather be a knight is tormented by her older brothers until she disguises her identity, wins a knights’ jousting tournament, and earns their respect and the right to marry whomever she chooses. If you think all that sounds like a mash-up of pretty much every female lead in Game Of Thrones, you’re not wrong, but again, you really shouldn’t watch that show with your kids.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke and Kerstin Meyer ($6)
Dangerously Ever AfterPrincess Amanita rides brakeless bicycles, tends a garden of brambles, and does her hair in a scorpion tail — she cares not for your sappy roses. She will, however, take more thorns, please. Problems arise when a poorly hand-written note results in Prince Florian giving her nose seeds instead of rose seeds, and she must go on an adventure to return the world’s smelliest flowers. Because they’re noses. You get it.
Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater and Valeria Docampo ($13)
Princess And The PigWhen a baby pig and princess are switched at birth, the farmer and his wife credit a good fairy while the king and queen blame a wicked witch. The princess, dubbed “Pigmella,” grows up poor but happy on the farm, while “Priscilla” grows up the literal embodiment of a cliché. The royals refuse the farmers’ attempt to rectify the situation and Pigmella couldn’t care less. She never even wanted to be a princess, because everyone knows the royals are totally useless.
The Princess And The Pig by Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene ($14)
Princess SmartypantsIn a modern, feminist fairy tale that might hit a little close to home for your wife, Princess Smartypants just wants to live unmarried-ly ever after but her annoying family won’t stop bugging her to settle down already. She successfully wards off all suitors by setting them upon impossible tasks, but when the last one succeeds a magical kiss puts a new twist on an old fairy tale ending.
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole ($7)
Sleeping BobbyIf a princess can slay a dragon, then a prince can be cursed to a 100-year sleep and awoken by a princess’ kiss. If you’re worried that such a reversal might confuse your kid, Jimmy Kimmel wants to remind you that kids are remarkably unfazed by all this stuff.
Sleeping Bobby by Mary Pope Osborne, Will Osborne, and Giselle Potter ($17)
The Princess And The PizzaAfter her father moves the family out of the castle to pursue the arts, Princess Paulina finds herself wanting to get back into the princess game. She competes in a princess search staged by Queen Zelda, and after passing the pea-under-the-mattress and glass slipper tests, wins the final cooking contest by accidentally inventing pizza. She ultimately rejects Prince Drupert to open a successful pizzeria, and everyone learns a valuable lesson: love is love, but pizza is happiness.
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane Auch and Herm Auch ($8)
Not All Princesses Dress In PinkThis rhyming tale by a mother and daughter team describes all the different kinds of princesses and the many things they can wear, be, and do. They can drive dump trucks, play sports, kick up mud, and more, all while wearing their tiaras — but never pink. All that’s keeping this from being a GoldieBlocks commercial is a few lines of code and some pissed off Beastie Boys.
Not All Princesses Dress In Pink by Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Anne-Sophie Lanquetin ($13)