What little girl can resist a story about a princess? Unfortunately, there are gads of awful ones scattered throughout bookstores and libraries. There are far too many princess stories with bratty, materialistic, or pretentious women at the center.
We managed to compile a list of the diamonds in the rough – stories that focus on princesses of intellect and character.
Below are our top picks for books that feature princesses (listed in alphabetical order).
written by Frances Hodgson Burnett; illustrated by Tasha Tudor
After 10-year-old Sara Crewe loses her father and family fortune, she is forced to become a servant in an elite girls boarding school. In spite of her circumstances, she displays courage, compassion, and strength. An excellent reminder that “All girls are [princesses]. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses.”
written by Kate Lum; illustrated by Sue Hellard
Meet Allie, Libby, and Mellie – three princesses, each with a distinct talent. Allie is a baker; Libby is a builder; and Mellie is a gardener. What will happen when they give up their skills “because princesses are good at everything”? Well, of course, they’ll come to the conclusion that “princesses are good at what they love.” The fun illustrations (girls will love the princesses’ hair – in shades of pink, purple, and sunshine yellow!) and total lack of a prince make this story a fun read-aloud…even if it’s not particularly inspiring or ingenious.
written by Nancy Gow; illustrated by Stephen Costanza
There once was a lovely princess with “gigantic feet” and a kind prince with a “gigantic nose.” After being rejected by other potential suitors, they find each other and are delighted by each other’s uniqueness. As the rhythmic text trills, “I am what I am and that’s all right with me!” Wonderful illustrations will keep even the youngest reader engaged.
written and illustrated by Jane Ray
An elderly king has three daughters. He charges them to “do something to make your mark – something to make me proud.” After seven days and seven nights, he will select one to rule the kingdom. Susanna and Miranda construct tall towers out of vanity and without regard to their constituents. Serenity, the youngest daughter (with dark skin and dark curly hair), however does something quite different.
Written by Linda Leopold Strauss; Illustrated by Malene Reynolds Laugesen
A contest has been announced for the princess’ upcoming wedding. Every tailor in the village has been invited to submit a dress for consideration. Hanna’s father has gone into debt to create a masterpiece of satin and pearls. Right before the deadline, a smudge is discovered on the delicate fabric. Only a little girl with an artistic eye can propose a solution. You’ll hold your breath along with the family as the final dress is selected. Beautiful illustrations of gowns that every little girl will dream of wearing.
What are your favorite picture books about princesses? We’ll update our list as other treasures are discovered, always keeping our list to the very BEST children’s books.