9 not-so-princessy children’s books

“They won’t tell you about how Red Riding was the wolf and Snow White went back to kill the queen.

Or that Cinderella’s step family mysteriously disappeared after she became queen.

They are afraid to let you know that Aurora woke up screaming because a strange man was kissing her without her consent.

Or how Ariel had no problem killing the two timing prince and restoring herself to the sea.

The fairy tales we should tell our daughters should be about strong women with real flaws and incredible qualities. Lets raise girls who don’t just wait to be rescued, but take destiny in their own hands and charge to battle dragons and their enemies.”

– Nikita Gill

If you,like me are a parent and grew up on princess stories, where the protagonist is a damsel in distress, waiting around for her knight in shining armor to rescue her while she preens and adjusts her hair, this is for you.

Dont get me wrong, I dont mean to scoff at classics, well maybe I do. Raising my daughter is something I take very seriously, and exposing her to strong women role models is top on my agenda.

So for every Sleeping beauty and Cinderella we receive, I go ahead and order 2 books of my choice for baby V, mostly from the list below.

If you are hunting for the perfect not-so- princess stories for your child, read on.

1. The worst princess by Anna Kemp

This is undoubtedly our favourite in the stash. The story follows a bored Princess Sue waiting eagerly for her prince, and when he comes he takes her to his castle. What the adventure loving princess does next forms the rest of the story in rhyme.

Takeaway message we loved – Not all happily ever afters have to involve a prince

Recommended age- 1plus

The worst princess

The worst princess

2. The paperbag princess by Robert Munsch

I love this strong princess. When a dragon attacks and carries away the prince she is slated to marry, Princess Elizabeth decides to rescue him. Since her clothes are burnt, she dons a paperbag and outwits the dragon.

Twist in the story – the prince turns out to be a mean snob. You’ll have to read it to know what she does next though.

Takeaway message we loved- a girl who isnt scared to call out on nonsense

Recommended age – 3plus

The Paperbag Princess

The Paperbag Princess

3. Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke

Princess Isabella gets tired of being a princess – the smiles and frills and prim and properness. Her dad banishes her to the pigsty and guess what, she has the time of her life! Daddy dearest and the headstrong daughter do compromise finally.

Takeaway message we loved- A surprise vegetarianism and anti “sit like a girl” message

Recommended age – 3plus

Princess Pigsty

Princess Pigsty

4. Not every princess by Jeffrey and Lisa Bone

At the outset, this is not a princess book, although it is such a beautiful one that encourages readers to think outside the box. It lists all the typical things princesses, fairies, etc do and then the not so typical things they can do too.

Takeaway message we loved – the subtle breaking of gender stereotypes

Recommended age – 2plus


Not Every Princess

5. Olivia and the fairy princesses by Ian Falconer

We love this sassy piglet and this book is one of the best in the series. So little Olivia wonders why all princesses must wear pink. Why not Indian princesses or African princesses?

Not a mindblowing storyline, but somehow, baby V loves this one.

Takeaway message we loved- Options. You can be anything you want to be.

Recommended age- 1 plus


Olivia and the fairy princesses

6. The princess and the pizza

Princess Paulina is reduced to poverty​ once her dad renounces the crown and becomes a wood carver. She misses princessy things like waving out to people who wave back. So when there is a contest to search for the wife of the land’s prince, she jumps at the chance. What follows is a series of tasks that lead to self discovery and invention of the pizza.

Takeaway message we loved- Again, a different happy ending, and a girl who is in charge of her own decisions. Not to forget the “oh for Pete’s sakes!”

Recommended age – 4plus

The Princess and the Pizza

The Princess and the Pizza

7. Princess Daisy and the dragon and the nincompoop knights by Steven Lenton

Hahaha! This one is a keeper! When a sudden sound terrorizes the people, the king decides it is a dragon that needs capturing and summons 3 knights. Princess Daisy figures out the actual problem but her dad doesnt listen cos what do princesses know? So what does she do? Enters the contest herself.

A super witty book.

Takeaway message we loved – Anyone can be brave

Recommended age 3plus

Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights

Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights

8. The apple pip princess by Jane Ray

When the kingdom is in a pathetic state, it falls upon the 3 princesses to buck up and inherit the throne. How Princess Serenity uses her cleverness and her mom’s inheritance to beautify the kingdom forms the rest of the book.

What we loved- It really is in the small things.

Recommended age – 5plus

The Apple-Pip Princess

The Apple-Pip Princess

9. My princess boy by Cheryl Kilodavis

Not the greatest illustrations ( or maybe the faces are not highlighted for a reason), and not really a story line as such, but Id still recommend this book. This follows the life of a sparkly happy boy, who loves pink and wearing tiaras. A great book to open dialogues and conversations with your littles.

Take away message we loved- It is okay if people criticize you. Just be yourself.

Recommended age – 3plus

My Princess Boy

My Princess Boy

Ive tried to keep it as short as possible. Are there any books you would recommend adding to the list? Was this helpful? Do let me know in the comments below.

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