Lately, I have heard a lot of negative thing about princesses. We talk about princess complexes and bratty behavior which leads to the idea that we shouldn't let out children pretend to be royalty. In our house, I have seen the complete opposite. We talk about how princesses are strong people, how they need to help people because they are in a position to. We talk about how being important it is for a princess to be kind and polite. Pretending to be a princess has never limited by daughter because we had always made sure to read stories about strong girls and strong princesses. These books are my favorite read aloud books featuring strong princesses and girls and all of them have wonderful messages for both boys and girls.
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale- Miri has grown up on Mount Eskel, it is a quiet life until the King's Priests chose the mountain as the home of the next princess. Each village girl is required to attend a strict princess academy, for when the prince comes in a year to pick his bride. Although Miri is small and feels like she doesn't contribute much to her family's work in the quarry, she finds that she can contribute in much bigger ways. This is one of my favorite princess reads, the main character is endearing and for once you aren't rooting for her to end up with the prince.
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This is hands down my favorite Cinderella story. If you have seen the movie, don't let it keep you from reading this book to your kids. It is clever and funny. There is still the same basic cast of characters, Ella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters but in this version you add in some crazy fairies, ogres and giants too. Ella was cursed by a fairy when she was a baby with obedience. She has to follow any direct command that she is given, which could including hurting herself. Ella must figure out how to break the curse before she does something truly dreadful.
- Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). This fun series is about a princess who likes to fence and practice magic and doesn't want to marry a boring prince, instead she runs off to live with the dragons instead. She becomes a dragon's princess and actually talks the knights who come out of rescuing her. At first Cimorene finds herself doing household tasks for her dragon, Kazul, but eventually she finds herself doing magic and saving the entire Enchanted Forest.
- Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George- When Creel's aunt offers her to a local dragon in hopes that somebody wealthy will rescue her and bring money to the family, Creel decides not to stick around and rescues herself. She strikes a bargain with a dragon, that includes her freedom and an odd pair of slippers. The slipper cause trouble all over the place until the put the fate of the whole nation at risk. Creel must figure out what the slippers do and how to save the country before it is too late.
- Goose Girl by Shannon Hale- When Ani is sent to a foreign land to marry a foreign prince, she thinks life couldn't get much worse. Then her lady in waiting leads a mutiny and takes her place. Ani becomes a Goose Girl to the queen and must figure out a way to save herself and the country from the pretend princess.
- The Frog Princess by ED Baker- Princess Emeralda is nothing like a stereotypical princesses and she does not want to marry Prince Jorge at all. When Emma is convinced to kiss a frog to help him turn back into a prince, she is turned into a frog instead. In a story for unlike the Disney version, Emma must fend for herself on her adventures.
- Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George- Castle Glower isn't like your typical castle. It adds rooms and secret paths and Princess Celie loves to take the time to map out the magical castle. When the king and queen are ambushed and her beloved living castle is put to sleep, it is up to Celie to protect her home.
- The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine - Princess Meryl is very brave. She plans to rid the kingdom of ogres and all manner of unpleasantness. Princess Addie is timid and fearful of everything. When Meryl contracts the Gray Death, Addie must put aside her fears and set out on her own to find the cure.
- Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale - Lady Saren is to be locked in a tower for seven years because she refuses to marry Lord Khashar. She brings a maid, Dashti along to be her companion during this time. Dashti surprisingly doesn't seem to mind the arrangement, she is grateful that she knows she will be fed for seven years, but whens he finds rats in the flour and mold on the cheese, Dashti must find a way for them to survive.
- Fairest by Gail Carson Levine- Aza isn't a dainty princess, in fact she is a plain peasant and in a land that prizes beautiful faces and voices more than anything else, she sometimes feels out of place. Aza does have a gorgeous voice and the talent of being able to throw her voice to sound as if it is coming from anywhere in the room. A passing duchess invites her to court and then the queen who has a plains singing voice insists she stays so that she can use Aza's voice as her own. Aza must learn to stand on her own feet and use her voice for good instead of allowing it to be used by the evil queen.
I do have to include a shout out to The Paper Bag Princess, although it is a picture book instead of a chapter book, I think it is one of the best princess stories of all time. Can you think of any other books featuring strong princesses?