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Children’s Books for the Cool Kids

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!”

In the category of books recognizing all sorts of parents and families and households are Signe Fjord’s delightful Who Is Picking Me Up? and Mommy and the Love Child.

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

Happy reading!

Photo by benjamin.ks.chan

Children’s Books for the Cool Kids

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2017). Children’s Books for the Cool Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 31 Aug 2017
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