Ten Favorite Alternative Princess Picture Books

First of all, I’d like to say Happy Hinamatsuri, which is Girls’ Day in Japan (and by extension, Hawaii). Every March 3rd, girls are honored and their health and happiness prayed for, and beautiful dolls are displayed to represent emperors and empresses- amazing collections of entire entourages in ceremonial dress. I wish I could show you a picture of the display for Girls’ Day in my son’s Montessori School- his Japanese language teacher created a large collage of the girls in class all dressed in beautiful kimonos. It’s a really cool tradition.

With this in mind, I thought today would be a great day to put out a Ten Favorites post, one that honors and celebrates girls. So here is a collection of stories about princesses, but not your average princesses. Oh, no. I did a post a while back on The Paper Bag Princess and it got a lot of comments with recommendations of other likeminded books, so I figured it’s a broadening and necessary niche.

Now my daughter loves princesses just as much as any nearly 3 year old. So does my son, for that matter. She loves to dress up in her fancy dress and her tiara, both pink, of course. She dances around and points her toes, and I think it’s great. I mean, dressing up is fun, princesses are fun. But at two, it hasn’t yet been beaten into her head that princesses are kind of helpless, waiting for their prince to come while dressed elegantly and exhibiting exquisite manners, just hoping he’s handsome and has a full head of hair. I’ll avoid introducing that concept as long as I possibly can. For Halloween this year, I found this awesome Wonder Woman costume at a consignment store and she *loved* it. It’s shiny, there’s a cape and boots, I mean, what’s NOT to adore about it? She excitedly climbed into it, wrist bands and all, and immediately pronounced “I’m a princess!” She was utterly convinced during the whole holiday season (because why just dress up in your Halloween costume once?) that she was dressed as a princess. And yup, I thought, the most kick-ass princess I’ve ever seen.


But back to the task at hand. This is a list of alternative princess books, books where the princess uses her wits and slays the dragon, where the princess doesn’t wear pink, and challenges the ideal beauty that we’re used to seeing, where historical princesses and varied cultures are explored, where free-spirited girls choose their own destinies. In short, they are books where our faithful heroine is strong and brave and intelligent and has her own unique identity.

10 Favorite Alternative Princess Books- from www.ameliesbookshelf.com

  1. The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch
  2. The Princess Knight, by Cornelia Funke
  3. Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, Jane Yolen
  4. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer
  5. The Princess and the Dragon, by Audrey Wood
  6. Princess Grace, by Mary Hoffman
  7. The Knight Who Took All Day, by James Mayhew
  8. Jane and the Dragon, by Martin Baynton
  9. The Apple-Pip Princess, by Jane Ray
  10. The Emperor and the Kite, by Jane Yolen

Do you have more untraditional princess books to add to the list?

22 thoughts on “Ten Favorite Alternative Princess Picture Books

  1. I just wanted to say that I’m so happy to see that the “Apple Pip Princess” was on this list, because I also thought it was a very good “princess” book! For us it was one of those random finds at the library, and my daughter LOVED it, and we read it over and over again. It’s a great story.


  2. Great list – a couple on here that I haven’t seen on similar lists, too. The Last of the Dragons, by E. Nesbit, has a brilliant princess, who doesn’t see why a prince should have to rescue her when she’s a better fencer than any of the princes she knows, and is also unhappy about having to let the very last dragon be killed just so she can marry a prince.


  3. Great list! We love Olivia and Jane and the Dragon. Some other great alternative princess titles the girls and I like are “Waking Beauty” and “Falling for Rapunzel” by Leah Wilcox, a humorous take on the traditional versions. 🙂


  4. Thanks! I recently downloaded a princess book app on our iPhones. The kids LOVE it but I need to make it go poof pretty soon. It was appalling – the prince walks around the world rejecting princesses that are too ugly, too tall, too something-or-the-other. I hate it and they constantly go into it themselves. It will be disappearing shortly!


  5. This is fantastic! I often cringe when reading princess books to my son because of the way they are often written. I take every opportunity to read books to him about capable and intelligent people of all kinds. The Paperbag Princess is a favorite of ours, but I’m not familiar with the others.

    We recently read A Gold Star for Zog and loved it! It has a great take on a princess that I am happy to promote for my son.

    I will be adding your books to my to-read list. They look fantastic! Thanks for the post.


  6. Pingback: Listly List - Books for Princesses #princess #children'sbooks #reviews

  7. Pingback: Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, by Ian Falconer | Amélie's Bookshelf

Leave a Reply to cmbanerjee Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s