I am hard-pressed to find a three or four-year-old girl who hasn’t succumbed to Disney Princess madness and whose parents can’t be overheard mumbling “That’s it! I am calling a moratorium on princess paraphernalia…” as his/her daughter opens the third birthday gift…“Oh, great! It’s Barbie Swan Princess.” These are the same parents who painted their daughter’s bedroom in gender-neutral hues and dressed her in overalls, to no avail: she will only wear dresses (like my daughter—even skirts are suspiciously un-princess-like).
The Disney Princess Phenomenon is more insidious than carbon monoxide, more silent, more deadly (well, silent in the early stages, anyway…beware the shrill tones, for example, of Disney Princess CD Player).
These books, read in rotation every night, might help:
Fancy Nancy: Jane O’Connor’s message here is that fancy is fabulous, but has its pitfalls. There’s a great book in the series about Nancy’s mutt not being quite fabulous enough (i.e., Paris Hilton’s canine wouldn’t be seen with Nancy’s dog), but ultimately the most lovable beast, EVER.
Cinder Edna: Written by Ellen Jackson, this one takes some selling: Written for parents as much as for your kiddo, we’re won over more readily; the message is that CinderElla’s neighbor and doppelganger-in-situ CinderEdna is far more interesting and enterprising than boring, whiny CinderElla and The Prince. My daughter is still unconvinced. But the battle rages. Parents are NOT GIVING UP!
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?: I love this book written by Carmela La Vigna Coyle. It addresses some of the questions our little prima donnas need answers to from an authority besides ourselves (did anyone else think this kind of parental discreditation was saved for adolescence?). According to this book, princesses apply common sense to their outfits, preferences, and general attitudes.
The Paperbag Princess, by Robert Muncsch: I love anything written by Robert Munsch! The princess in this story is tenacious and even after saving her own prince, decides to leave him and live happily ever after without him!
Princess Smartypants, by Babette Cole: A sassy, smart princess who’d rather live with her pets. She outsmarts her suitors and lives happily ever after.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is about a princess brought up as a boy, who fights back at her brothers teasing her and rebels with the kings ridiculous suggestion of being married off. Fun illustrations too.
Princess Pigsty is about the youngest of three princesses and she’s tired of all the things princesses do. She doesn’t want to wear her crown, and wear fancy clothes, instead she gets banished to the kitchen and loves it, and even further, to the pigsty and is happy as a clam. Finally her father the king relents and just wants her to be happy.