“Do We Really Need ‘Princesses’ Anymore?” Reading List

I let this blog go for a while. I’ve had my hands full with full-time work, parenting, and trying to make Geek Culture a reality. I’m resurrecting this to share a reading list for a panel I was on.

The panel, “Do We Really Need ‘Princesses’ Anymore?”, was held this morning at CONvergence. I loved the discussion and was a little in awe of the fact that I was sitting next to an author on my “to-read” list. 🙂 I don’t believe that we need princesses; I’m all for recognizing the worth of “ordinary” people (isn’t that a point Tolkien made in The Lord of the Rings?). But I think our kids are surrounded by princesses as role models, so we might as well expose them to strong ones. The list below features books with strong princesses who make good role models.

I have to add: Being an introvert, I always think of things I should have said after the fact. I realized after the panel discussion that, while princesses really aren’t a big deal in the modern world, particularly a democracy like the United States, we really do live in a society with dynasties. The Bushes, the Clintons, the Kardashians… They may not be royalty, but they fill the role of royalty in America. Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

One last note before I post the list: Geek Culture is not dead. I hope to have something to post about it in the next week or so.


Strong Princesses in Literature for the Young, the Young-at-Heart and Their Families

Picture books

The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton – Although in many ways very pink, sparkly and girly, this fairy-princess obsessed girl also contradicts others’ views of fairy princesses.

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett – An infant princess and piglet are accidentally swapped, and the princess is raised in poverty by loving parents.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke – A princess learns to be a knight and wins her own hand in marriage in a tournament.

Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke – Bored of being a princess, Isabella rebels. She is eventually banished to the pigsty, where she is very happy.

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman – A princess-obsessed girl redefines princesses – for herself and her community.

Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson – Contrasts Cinderella, pitiful, helpless and shallow, with Cinder Edna, practical, fun and capable. (One of my favorites)

Princesses Are Not Quitters! By Kate Lum – Three princesses decide to be servants for a day. After their hard day, they make life easier on their servants… and they continue to do many of the chores.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch – A dragon burns down Elizabeth’s castle (also destroying her clothes) and carries off her betrothed, Prince Ronald. Wearing a paper bag, she rescues Ronald, only to discover he’s not worth the trouble. (Another favorite)

Sleeping Bobby by Mary Pope Osborne and Will Osborne – A gender-neutral, otherwise very faithful retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Prince Bob is Sleeping Beauty, gifted with kindness, courage and modesty, “qualities that anyone might wish for and admire.” He is rescued by an unnamed princess who shares his virtues. (Also one of my favorites)

Part-time Princess by Deborah Underwood – An ordinary girl turns into a princess at night. In frilly dresses, she regularly saves her kingdom from disaster. (Yet another favorite)

Easy readers

The Princess in Black  by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale – A perfect princess and her supposed unicorn are secretly a monster-fighting duo.

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Princeless – An amazing, awesomely feminist series (Can you tell it’s one of my favorites?)

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale – Rapunzel in a Weird West universe

Wonder Woman – Need I say more?

Books for Older Children and Teens

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – The princess is strong, but the author’s attempt to write a body-positive story hasn’t gone over well with many people. There are more books in the series, but I haven’t read them yet.

The Goose Girl and The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale – All of these books feature strong female characters, including princesses. There is a heavy emphasis on romance.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede – Funny book featuring a princess who is definitely a role model. There are more books in the series, but I haven’t read them all. (A favorite)

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