HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Princess Books: From the Traditional to the Do-It-Yourself Versions

Princess Books: From the Traditional to the Do-It-Yourself Versions

By Luisa LaFleur, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 17, 2013

Parental opinions on princesses run the gamut from trying to shield our daughters at all costs to wholly embracing the happily ever after stereotype. Being from the former camp myself, I eventually came around and accepted my daughter’s wholehearted enthusiasm for all things pink and princessy. I wouldn’t have steered her in that direction myself, but once her inclination manifested itself, I couldn’t ban princess-related things for fear of encouraging her desire by making them contraband. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the standard princess conventions, I do appreciate the lessons inherent in most princess fairy tales. That said, I also try to temper the traditional fairy tales with more modern takes on gender roles. Following is a list of princess stories that ranges from old-fashioned, traditional tales to new releases that encourage creativity and inventiveness.

12 Dancing Princesses_cvrThe Twelve Dancing Princesses

Retold and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 30 pages

Publisher: Crocodile Books

What to expect: A retelling of a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm; dancing princesses; keeping secrets

The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a traditional tale of regal finery and intrigue. The earliest known version of the tale is from 1812 by the Brothers Grimm but there are many versions in various languages. In this version, the story tells of twelve princesses who spend their nights secretly dancing in an enchanted palace instead of sleeping. When their father, the king, asks why their shoes are always worn out in the mornings, they reply that they don’t know since all they do at night is sleep. The king offers the hand of one of his daughters in marriage to the man who discovers their secret. Ruth Sanderson has lovingly retold and illustrated the story with beautiful images of the princesses and their charming evenings.

ThePrincessAndThePeaThe Princess and the Pea

By Hans Christian Andersen; illustrated by Maja Dusíková

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 26 pages

Publisher: Floris Books

What to expect: A retelling of a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen; learning not to judge a book by its cover

In this version of the Princess and the Pea, a young prince searches high and low for the perfect princess but has little luck. He travels around the world but can’t seem to find a “true” princess. He returns home in despair. As luck would have it, a thunderstorm brings a wayward princess to the castle. She is invited to stay and the Queen devises an ingenious plan to determine whether or not she’s a real princess.

LittleMissMollyLittle Miss Molly

By Melissa M. Williams; illustrated by Kelley Ryan

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 30 pages

Publisher: Long Tale Publishing

What to expect: Princesses in pink; trying new things; sharing

Little Miss Molly is an adorable green lizard who loves to dress up as a princess. She  wears pink, and only pink, because that’s what princesses wear. Disaster strikes when her favorite pink dress is dyed purple in a laundry accident–but in true princess fashion, she finds a way to solve her problem and enjoy her friends.

APrincessLikeMeA Princess Like Me

By Matthew Reinhart

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 12 pages

Publisher: Random House

What to expect: Simple story about a princess’ everyday activities; pop-up pictures

In this lovely paperback, we meet a young princess who has invited her friends to a royal tea party. We see her wake up, get dressed and do her chores before meeting her friends–a perfect example of how princesses do lots of the same things we do.

ParttimePrincessPart-Time Princess

By Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Cambria Evans

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Paperback: 30 pages

Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books

What to expect: Not your typical princess story; dragons and trolls; adventures

By day she’s a regular girl who goes to school, has a pesky little brother and has to follow the rules. By night, she’s a princess who rescues the kingdom from fire-breathing dragons and tames troublesome trolls. This delightful tale of an empowered princess uses imaginative role play to foster problem-solving skills.

ThePrincessWhoNeverSmiledThe Princess Who Never Smiled

By Nora Gaydos

Reading level: Ages 4-7

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: innovativeKids

What to expect: An interactive book that can be read, re-written and re-drawn

The Princess Who Never Smiled is a great book for building early literacy skills. Young readers can enjoy the funny story about a king and queen who try to get their princess daughter to smile. After reading it, there is a section of lined pages where youngsters can retell the story in their own words. Finally, there is a section where readers can draw their  own pictures to the story. The book includes stickers that can be used in the illustrations. This is a thoroughly entertaining hands-on experience.

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Luisa LaFleur reviews bilingual books for The Children’s Book Review to help parents choose the best books for their budding linguists. She was born in Argentina, attended school in NYC and speaks three foreign languages–Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Formerly an editor in NYC, Luisa is currently a stay-at-home mom to two little ones.

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