My little princess is much more likely to get dirty playing in the mud than her big brother, but still enjoys the occasion frilly dress and ruffles. She is far from the typical princess, and I relish that. Like her, I was more likely to be found playing ‘boy’ games then rocking the pick dresses I was often decked out in. I love the independent nature and rough and ready style of my little girl, and want to encourage her to continue being herself and help both of my kids ignore the standard gender roles and do what makes them happy rather than conforming to the roles of pretty princess and brave knight.
In my efforts to find books that break the stereotypes, I have found a large number of books that feature princesses breaking the standard image. Some of the princess are up to saving themselves, and sometimes saving the prince as well, others are just content in being who they really are and encourage readers of all ages to do the same.
Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joosse; illustrated by Randy Cecil. When a lonely dragon follows a trail of princess tears, a beautiful friendship is born. They march and sing, roar and whisper, hide and seek, then settle into snug companionship at bedtime.
The Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen; illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Tired of the royal life, Princess Bea boards a pirate ship and sets out for adventure on the high seas but soon finds she is not good at swabbing decks, cooking in the galley, or keeping watch from the crow’s nest.
Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert; illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. When the other princesses make fun of her for wearing glasses, Princess Peepers vows to go without, but after several mishaps–one of which is especially coincidental–she admits that she really does need them if she wants to see.
Part-Time Princess by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Cambria Evans. A girl escapes her annoying little brother and the drudgery of school and home life when she travels to a magical kingdom each night and embarks on a series of adventures.
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. Not wishing to marry any of her royal suitors, Princess Smartypants devises difficult tasks at which they all fail, until the multitalented Prince Swashbuckle appears.
Thankfully books like these are becoming easier to find, books where a princess (or any girl) is measured by more than her looks and ability to be sweet and quiet. Here are some more great books about princesses that break the mold; The Barefoot Book of Princesses retold by Caitlín Matthews; illustrated by Olwyn Whelan, The Storytelling Princess by Rafe Marti; illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root, The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray, Do Princesses Have Best Friends Forever? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle; illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon, Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple; illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin, Princesses are Not Quitters! by Kate Lum; illustrated by Sue Hellard, Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funk ; illustrated by Kerstin Meyer; translated by Chantal Wright, The Paper Princess by Elisa Kleven, The Paper Bag Princess written by Robert N. Munsch; illustrated by Michael Martchenko, and Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated by Florence Parry Heide; illustrated by Lane Smith.