If you were a princess yourself, you not only know these books, you became these heroines. We debated even writing up this list; it seemed so obvious. Until we realized that perhaps, you weren’t a princess as a child. Coming from a long line of princesses, that seemed impossible, until we thought that just maybe, there were once upon a time some little girls who hadn’t thought their wish was everyone’s command and that a tiara was proper sleeping attire. Or some men- daddys, grandpas, uncles and teachers- who also hadn’t had these convictions. And if you were (are?) a princess, hopefully there are a few new books on this list just for you (and your little princess, of course).
The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child
Not every princess book features an actual princess, but the Princess and the Pea has the original independent and strong-willed princess and is a great place to start- especially this gorgeous and funny version by Lauren Child. (If you’re not familiar with Lauren Child’s other books, especially the Charlie and Lola series, that’s a whole other fun set of books to explore! Lola is a very funny and determined little girl in her own right.)
Eloise by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight
She may not actually be royalty, but try telling Eloise that. Eloise is six. She is a city child. She lives at the Plaza. She lives a fabulous life! Eloise is the inspiration behind many of the newer precocious little girls (like Olivia, Nancy, and Lilly), and you just can’t can’t can’t imagine anyone who will make you laugh, laugh, laugh harder. For more online fun with Eloise, try Eloise, the Animated Series website or the Eloise Official Website.
The Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
This is a wonderful book on so many levels. Yes, she is a beautiful princess with beautiful clothes. Then something happens and all she has to wear is a paperbag, and she has to save her prince (who is less than appreciative, and frankly, less than princely). Without being the least bit preachy, this book encourages young girls and teaches all kids great lessons about being resourceful, strong, courageous, determined, and what actually constitutes a happy ending!
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Why do little (and big) girls want to be princesses? Sure, there are the pretty dresses, crowns and castles. But the real draw is the freedom a princess seems to have to do things her own way. Her own creative, wonderful, determined, sometimes weird, always special, way. Lilly is a modern princess, who’s high spiritedness sometimes gets her into trouble, but lovable nature helps get her out of it. (It’s a nice bonus to see that her hero in this tale is her teacher!)
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Just like the little girl in your life, Olivia is good at lots of things. One of those things is wearing people out. Another one is charming them. Olivia is one of the simpler books on the list, with perfect pictures for the youngest princess, and funny and charming enough to delight older kids and adults. Luckily, there are several more Olivia books to delight you when this one has been memorized by all.
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, illustrated by Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon
Some little girls want to be a princess, but maybe without the fancy dresses and courtly manners. (See also Princess Pigsty.) Maybe your little princess likes hiking boots and scraped knees. This fun and inclusive book ends with a mirror and the (slightly sappy, but completely true) adage “A princess is a place in your heart.”
Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie, illustrated by Jocelyn Hobbie
While some princesses like hiking boots, others like all things PINK. And this delightful book gives you every shade of pink, with funny rhyming text and pictures that may remind you a little of Dr. Seuss. This is a really fun way to indulge a little girl’s love of pink, while introducing them to the beauty of other colors, and simultaneously avoid those boring pink-for-the-sake-of-pink books (like Pinkalicious or Double Pink).
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
Nancy is one Fancy little girl. Too bad no one else in her family is half as fancy. Good thing they have Nancy to teach them. But their love for her is evident in their willingness to play along, and her love for them (even with her exasperation!) shines through in the end. This first entry in the Nancy series is a great one, and the sequels almost match it. The best part of the book is the whimsical, playful and detailed illustrations. If they look familiar, it’s because Glasser also illustrated You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum. If they don’t look familiar, go find that book too! It’s formidable, which as Nancy could tell you, means great in French.