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Themes, Topics & Categories > Alternatives to the 'Helpless Princess' Theme?

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message 1: by Jennifer (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

Jennifer (JenStCyr) Don't get me wrong, I love princesses, pink, sparkly things, etc., but I'm not thrilled with the damsel in distress narrative that often accompanies it all.
Having to explain 'betrothed' to my 5 year old was when I realized it's time to update our bedtime stories.

Any suggestions for a 5-8 year old girl with a penchant for glitter and adventure?

message 2: by ABC (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

ABC (Mary6543) | 341 comments The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. My son likes it.

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. I haven't read it, but it looks very feminist.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke.
Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke. Again I haven't read them, but they look promising.

The original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. (She dies at the end.) You can say, "See this is what happens if you give up your voice for a guy!" lol

Oh, and how about the Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist series? I actually own this, but haven't read it yet. It looks fun.

message 3: by Tiff (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

Tiff (TiffE) Definitely 'The Princess Knight' by Funke.

Also 'The Princess and the Pizza' by Mary Jane Auch.

I'll try to think of more!

message 4: by Jennifer (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

Jennifer (JenStCyr) These are FANTASTIC, thank you! We're going to the library today, I can't wait!

message 5: by ABC (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:48PM) (new)

ABC (Mary6543) | 341 comments Let us know which books your daughter likes!

message 6: by J-Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:49PM) (new)

J-Lynn (JVanPelt) Ella Enchanted and The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine are excellent twists to the stereotypical fairy tales.

Their reading level is probably a little high for the 5-8 year old, but they would be great to read together.

message 7: by Crystal (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Crystal Allen Lauren Child's version of The Princess and the Pea is one of my favorites! Both the princess and the queen are pretty fiesty.

message 8: by Nicola (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Nicola Turner (MadameT) | 3 comments Read anything by Lauren Child is my advice. Cornelia Funke just published Igraine the Brave which is a novel about a female knight. It's not as good as The Thief Lord but my 8 year old enjoyed it. Cornelia Funke is one busy lady!
When your daughter gets a little older she should read Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman.

message 9: by Alice (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:15PM) (new)

Alice Gold (alicewgold) Princesses Aren't Quitters is one that my young daughters enjoyed. I wouldn't say it is the best book in the world, but a little entertaining and along this theme.

If you want a religious book, Daughter of A King by Rachel Ann Nunes is a cute book about a royal princess.

message 10: by Amy (new)

Amy (Ldtchr) My daughter is 6 and is enjoying the Princess Ellie mysteries by Diana Kimpton. She also likes all of the Fairy sets by Daisy Meadows. They're not princesses, but they're full of glitter, etc.. there's a set of weather fairies, rainbow fairies, gem fairies (I think) and we just saw pet fairies.

I totally get what you mean about "betrothed", etc... I am also looking to be able to get out of the Junie B Jones books ad nauseum also - though my girls seem to like them.

message 11: by Elisa (new)

Elisa Clawson (ElisaD) Some of my favorite powerful girl(princess)books are the dragon books by Patricia Wrede. There are four in all and although the reading level is more middle school they are fabulous. Great read alouds. Starts with Dealing with Dragons.

message 12: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 10 comments This one is a great "Girl's can do it!" take on the Cinderella story:

"Cinder Edna" by Ellen Jackson and Kevin O'Malley. Both my 4-yr-old daughter and 6-yr-old son loved it.

message 13: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (RebeccaBird) My daughter loved Ella Enchanted and The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot.

message 14: by J (new)

J At 4 my daughter loved to be read to from the Usborne Book of Fairy Stories. At 8 she likes to read it to her younger sister. I was going to give you a few quotes from it but then I sat down and got interested in Fairy Nuff, who wasn't beautiful and graceful like other fairies, but thin and rather scruffy. Anyway, the stories are short and funny, the fairies are smart and sassy, and we thoroughly enjoy them all.

message 15: by Courtney (new)

Courtney we liked Princess Smartypants ok, but Princess Smartypants Rules was not that good, I don't think I will ever read it again, my DD didn't really like it either.

but I have to second the Princess Knight and The Paper Bag Princess.

message 16: by Maria (new)

Maria The "Barefoot book of Princesses" is a great collection of stories about "clever and resourceful" princesses. In fact, I recommend the whole "Barebook book of..." series (knights, pirates, ballerinas, mother and son tales, etc.)

message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah O'Sullivan Stew by Thatcher Hurd

Brave Irene, i think by William Steig

Pssst by Adam Rex

When Harriet Met Sojurner

The Hero and the Crown & the Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (YA)

The True Meaning of Smekday (YA) by Adam Rex

Alanna: The First Adventure (YA) by Tamora Pierce

Sabriel by Garth Nix (YA)

Brave Margaret (although she gets married at the end =[)

The Egypt Game (YA) by ZK Snyder

The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankenweiler (YA) by EL Kongisburg

Richard Peck's Blossom Culp books (YA)

also, this is really important: if you're concerned about how much young girls are being trained into princessyness and way-too-early commercialized sexuality, I would HIGHLY recommend reading Packaging Girlhood by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown. There's a whole chapter on literature for young girls.

message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah also, i thought the first princess diaries book was kind of funny in a beach read kind of way. However, the more the series progressed, the more I found them to be propagating low self-confidence in girls. by the third book i felt like Mia needed some serious therapy because of her constant, unacknowledged insecurity.

message 19: by Luann (new)

Luann (AZbookgal) | 44 comments The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye is a great book about a princess who is anything but ordinary - or typical.

message 20: by April (new)

April (arobins) I have a book out called "The Beautiful Princess Without a Face". Princess-Loves-the-Pond is very strong willed, but learns a valuable lesson about the beauty of the world she exist in. A boy does rescue her once, but it is her pet wolf.

message 21: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Cornelia Funke has also written another picture book called Princess Pigsty that's about a princess who would rather tend the pigs and climb trees than sit around looking cute.

message 22: by Amy (new)

Amy (amyhageman) | 7 comments I can recommend the "Girls to the Rescue" book linked below. I read it to my eight year old daughter at bedtime and we both really enjoyed it. I have added the rest of the books in this series to my to read list.

Another book we have both enjoyed is "Clever Beatrice":

And slightly different, but interesting to both of us, "Women Who Achieved Greatness" - also a bedtime read.

These are just the ones that I can recall the titles for immediately - I will review my picture books because I know I have a few more fairy tales with a twist!

Any other reading or parenting ideas to help transcend gender stereotypes?

message 23: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Shellyjanuary) I will go ahead and second the suggestion for Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. I also loved her "Princess Tales" series -- The Fairy's Mistake, The Princess Test, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep , Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, For Biddle's Sake, and The Fairy's Return.

message 24: by Tajah6065 (new)

Tajah6065 | 4 comments I just started reading Patricia Wrede series Dealing with Dragons. Cimorene is definitely a princess with lots of spunk. She wants to fence, learn magic and Latin and find adventure, which is everything her mom and dad (the king and queen) don’t want her to do. A great story so far. I look forward to reading the other books in this series.

message 25: by Flinkybits (new)

Flinkybits "igraine the brave" by cornelia funke is about an empowered and empowering girl knight with magician parents. in a picture book, cornelia funke's "pirate girl".

message 26: by Victoria (new)

Victoria The Gospel Cinderella is a great picture book. It focuses on the girl winning a singing competition and reuniting with her mother. No man-as-the-prize scenario involved.

message 27: by Abbeville (new)

Abbeville Press (AbbevillePress) From our backlist, we highly suggest Heroines: Great Women Through the Ages by Rebecca Hazell. There are gorgeous illustrations and it talks about powerful and influential women in history.
You can check it out here.

message 28: by Deana (new)

Deana | 3 comments For the adventure lover in her you can read The "Kiki Stirke" books. I'm a big fan of strong girl narratives and these ones even address the ways that girls can use stereotypes to their advantage.

message 29: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie In "The Wrestling Princess" the princess likes to drive tractors or some such equipment and she falls in love with a helicopter mechanic. It is from the book: "The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knighte : a Treasury of Modern Fairy Tales" edited by Jack Zipes ; illustrated by Stephane Poulin. The book has a great collection of modern fairy tales!

message 30: by Barbie (new)

Barbie The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale is a great story for older elementary children or as a read aloud. More about survival, friendship and loyalty than about getting the prince. Can be appreciated on many levels.

message 31: by Val (new)

Val (Valz) I immediately thought of The Paper Bag Princess, one of my favorites. It is such a good book for girls. Good message, delivered in a very funny way so it's not preachy.

message 32: by Jenelle (new)

Jenelle ummm....don't yell at me :P But The entire Wizard of Oz series. Dorothy is a brave little thing, and later on so are Trot and Betty. None of them sit around crying and waiting for a knight to come save em. :P

message 33: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Shellyjanuary) I'm currently reading Igraine the Brave (Cornelia Funke) and loving it!

I also read both books in the "Kiki Strike" series, and while technically not "princess" books, they are very girl-power-driven stories.

message 34: by ABC (new)

ABC (Mary6543) | 341 comments Has anyone mentioned Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman? I really want to get it!

message 35: by C (new)

C (CLeeR) Rumplestiltskin's Daughter by Diane Stanley. We LOVE it!
(We love many of those on this list as well.)

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