Occasionally people ask me for recommendations for children’s books that are not just the usual fare. I don’t have any kids, but they are asking me because they are particularly interested in (a) books in which little girls are encouraged to aspire to be something other than a princess, and (b) books for little boys and little girls who are being raised by all sorts of people and families, and not just the married mom and dad.
I do have some personal favorites. First among them is The Paperbag Princess, by Robert Munsch. I think lots of other readers love it too as there is now a 25th anniversary edition.
Another one that sounds good to me is Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes, by Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet: “Cinderstella has plans for her own happily ever after. A future princess she is not. Her calculations and equations are simple enough – she’d rather be an astronaut!”
Really, though, I don’t have the breadth or depth of knowledge that this topic deserves, so I turned to my Facebook friends to collect suggestions. Thanks to Kristin Noreen, Sandip Roy, and so many others who offered suggestions but did not want to be thanked by name.
Here are their suggestions. If you have others, please share them with us in the comments section.
- Rejected Princesses, by Jason Porath
- The Worst Princess, by Anna Kemp
- Matilda, by Roald Dahl
- Pippi Longstocking, and other books by Astrid Lindgren (as one of my awesome friends put it, “Pippi is a pretty rad girl, who has many other interests than finding a lame prince”)
- Jacqueline Wilson books (here’s an entire collection)
- Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitshugh
- The Madeline books, by Ludwig Bemelmans
- I Am Amelia Earhart, and other books by Brad Meltzer
- Prince Charming Isn’t Coming, by Barbara Stanny (for grown-up daughters)
- Putter and Tabby books, by Cynthia Rylant (from the person who recommended it: “lead characters are unmarried seniors who are neighbors and friends”)
- What do you do with an idea? and What do you do with a problem? by Kobi Yamada
- A Passion for Elephants: The Real Life Adventure of Field Scientist Cynthia Moss, by Toni Buzzeo
- The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires
- Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty
- Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman and Diana Souza (20th anniversary edition)
- Asha’s Mums, by Rosamund Elwin
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
- The Sissy Duckling, by Harvey Fierstein