[This is the latest in an occasional series by Beth Melo, a Southborough mom who loves to read to her kids. In this installment, Beth shares recommendations for all the little princess out there. This post was originally published on the Southborough Library website, and has been reposted here with permission. For more of Beth’s book recommendations, click here.]
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…unless you’re a girly girl. Then books covered with pink sparkles, pictures of fairies, rainbow ponies, or pretty princesses are irresistible. Unfortunately for parents, frequent reading of these often trite or sickeningly sweet books can lead to the urge to hang yourself with a pink feather boa.
While I enjoy reading books that teach about girl power (like Cornelia Funke’s Princess Knight) I also want to let my daughter enjoy her frillier side. So how can we cater to the princess in the house without going crazy? The best strategy is to find girly books that are readable. Here are my favorites that either by story or illustration should also hopefully capture little girls’ affection:
Princesses next door:
- Books about ordinary girls who “believe” they are really princesses – Princess Penelope by Todd Mack, The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Edwards and Emma Walton, and I am Really a Princess by Carol Diggory Shields. All three are entertaining.
- Queen of France by Tim Wadham is a cute story about a girl who spends the day pretending to be a queen only to decide she’d rather be her parents’ girl.
- Princess Super Kitty by Antoinette Portis follows a girl as she plays dress up, continually embellishing her imagined persona
- Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? and the related series by Carmela LaVigna Coyle is inspired by the author’s own daughter asking said question. These books answer a girl’s questions as family encourages her to enjoy life as a princess but without prissy constraints.
- Lottie Paris Lives Here by Angela Johnson brings a little fashionista to life, her fun, mischief, timeouts and all.
- Celestine, Drama Queen by Penny Ives is about a diva duckling who sees life from the perspective that she is a star.
- Louise the Big Cheese series by Elise Primavera. Louise longs to be an important diva, but is really just an ordinary girl next door. I just discovered these and have only read the original and Ooh La La Charm School to date. Both were cute and my children loved them. Both also included a nice message about real friendship. (They are a bit long for picture books, so probably more appropriate for children four or older.)
- Many of Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy picture books: Her adoration of all things fancy will be appreciated by most girls. The fact that she has an affinity to long, fancy words adds an educational element. But mostly, I just enjoy her melodramatic personality. My favorites are the original, Posh Puppy, Bonjour Butterfly, and Poet Extraordinaire! (Warning: the popularity of the cute picture books has led to a spate of less well edited beginner books. These supposedly “level 1” books seem far too difficult for most beginning readers. They aren’t necessarily bad – at least not the ones I’ve read —but they aren’t nearly as good as the less frequently published picture books. And recently I’ve seen covers of holiday books “based on the creation” – in other words, not by the author.)
- Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler is a simple book about a happy princess enjoying her numerous fancy outfits, but none as much as when she gets to relax in her bedroom in her underwear.
- Princess Peepers by Pam Calvert is a story about a girl who lets her peers convince her she looks weird wearing her glasses. Mothers who don’t like happy endings to be about riding off into the sunset with a prince may disapprove of this book. But it offers an opportunity to talk about catty behavior/emotional bullying (something all girls will inevitably encounter whether as victims, perpetrators, or likely a little of both.)
- The Princess Who Had Almost Everything by Mirielle Levert tells about a completely spoiled princess who is unhappy with everything, until someone teaches her to make her own fun.
- The Dreamtime Fairies by Jane Simmons follows the bedtime story a girl weaves (using their stuffed animals as characters) to help her little brother not be afraid of the dark. I’m generally biased toward sweet older sister/younger brother stories.
- The Dollhouse Fairy by Jane Ray tells the story of a girl who’s dollhouse is temporarily inhabited by a impish fairy, just when she needs the distraction
- The truth is I’m not a fan of most fairy books. I could only find one more to recommend and half-heartedly at that. A fairy went a-marketing by Rose Fyleman has very little text, and no real story. But the illustrations are beautiful and there is nothing annoying in it. (If anyone has another fairy book to recommend, I’d love to hear about it, as would my daughter.)
Pretty in Pink:
- The Pink Party by Maryann Macomber is about two friends who love pink, one of who turns a bit green with envy. It is a good opportunity to discuss jealousy and what friendship means.
- Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann. I enjoyed this story about a girl who learns her lesson after eating too many cupcakes turns her pink. (That doesn’t mean I like the popular sequels, sorry.)
- Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni is about a little girl who knows she’s a cowgirl and expects the necessary pony. (This story has nothing to do with pink – but it is the color that dominates the cover and illustrations.)
- Mimi and Lulu by Charise Mericle Harper follows pink and purple loving friends as they fight and make up over the course of through three fun short stories within one playdate.
- Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie is about a girl who (shockingly) is sick of pink, the color of everything on her planet. She heads out in search of another color.
If you have any questions for me, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any suggestions for other parents, you can post a comment below.