Best Children's Books About Self-reliant princesses

25 of the Best Books About Self-Reliant Princesses

Updated Jan. 24, 2019

Every little girl dreams about being a princess, but what kind of princess does she want to be? These books are filled with self-reliant, independent, courageous princesses, not just the traditional princess that waits for a man to save her. So if you don't love the damsel-in-distress type, or simply want to add in some variety to the princess world, we recommend these books with self-reliant princesses that are proud of who they are and can make things happen.

The Paper Bag Princess book
#1
The Paper Bag Princess
Written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This one is a classic in my book, turning the tale of a damsel in distress (which, don't get me wrong, can still be excellent) right on its head. The illustrations are so expressive and I love that not only does Princess Elizabeth throw fashion to the wind and use her smarts to outwit the dragon (without violence!), but also takes her new-found confidence and realizes that her prince is actually not as great as she once thought he was.

Over five million copies in print! When the fiercest dragon in the whole world smashes Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiancé, Prince Ronald, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. With her wits alone and nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince. But is it worth all that trouble? Readers the world-over have fallen in love with this classic story of girl power. Now a newly designed Classic Munsch edition will introduce the tale to a new generation of young feminists.

The Worst Princess book
#2
The Worst Princess
Written by Anna Kemp and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, Anna Kemp
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I think this story of an untraditional princess is a great addition to any library! I love that the princess doesn't just follow the "princess rules," but shows that there is more than one way to be a princess.

Bored of your run-of-the-mill princesses? Tired of traditional princess-finds-her-prince tale? Looking for a princess with a bit more bite? Then this is the book for you. Forget about pretty dresses, fairytale wedding and grand balls, Princess Sue is all about adventure, mischief and making unusual friends. She really is the worst princess!

The Two Princesses of Bamarre book
#3
The Two Princesses of Bamarre
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story of some not so average princesses is full of adventure, but the main reason I like it is because of the courage, bravery, and love it entails. When one sister gets ill, the other steps out of her comfort zone and stands up to danger in order to help her sister.

When plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must fulfill an ancient prophecy. Brave and adventurous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other. The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters' lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.

Not All Princesses Dress in Pink book
#4
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles -- all in their sparkly crowns!

Princess Baby, Night-Night book
#5
Princess Baby, Night-Night
Written and illustrated by Karen Katz
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This bedtime book is perfect for little ones interested in princesses. I like that the baby is learning how to get ready for bed (and get her stuff animals ready, too) independently, though with some instruction from parents.

A latest entry in the series that includes Princess Baby on the Go features an exuberant little Princess Baby who does not feel sleepy at bedtime but who puts on her pajamas, puts away her toys, brushes her teeth and selects a perfect storybook before settling under the covers.

Princess Smartypants book
#6
Princess Smartypants
Written and illustrated by Babette Cole
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Forced by her parents into looking for a husband, Princess Smartypants sets impossible tasks for her suitors to prove their worthiness, but when Prince Swashbuckle succeeds at every task, the Princess turns him into a frog with her kiss. Reprint.

The Princess Knight book
#7
The Princess Knight
Written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Envious of her brothers who are in training to become knights, young Violetta disguises herself as a boy in order to take part in the big jousting contest in the hopes of showing everyone that she is just as capable.

Ella Enchanted book
#8
Ella Enchanted
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this novel based on the story of Cinderella, Ella struggles against the childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. At birth, Ella of Frell was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at any time anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom--and she'll have to obey? Ella's quest to break the curse and discover who she really is, is both funny and poignant.

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? book
#9
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?
Written by Carmela LaVigna Coyle and illustrated by Carl Gordon, Mike Gordon
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Every inquisitive little girl wonders what it is really like to be a genuine princess. At the heart of Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? lives an energetic, spirited, and contemporary child who has lots of important questions for her mom. Do princesses ride tricycles, climb trees, do chores, or have to eat the crusts of their bread? The mother's voice is timelessly reassuring as she answers her daughter's questions and advises her that being like a princess has to do with what we are on the inside.

Princess Truly and the Hungry Bunny Problem book
#10
Princess Truly and the Hungry Bunny Problem
Written by Kelly Greenawalt and illustrated by Amariah Rauscher
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-3

Princess Truly uses her magic hair to solve a problem involving a hungry bunny.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters book
#11
Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Retells more than a hundred folktales form Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East that feature active heroines of all types.

The Duck Princess book
#12
The Duck Princess
Written and illustrated by Zach Wilkinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

“The Duck Princess” is the wonderful story of a duck named Juniper, a monster and a bear wizard. Juniper faces a problem she thinks she can't overcome but finds out the solution was within her the whole time.Written and illustrated by Zach Wilkinson, with photos by Paul Jarvis, this beautiful children's picture book will take kids of all ages on a journey of self discovery and friendship through mountains and streams, forests and fields.

Dangerously Ever After book
#13
Dangerously Ever After
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Valeria Docampo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A feisty princess with a garden said to be the most dangerous in the world makes a new friend when a shy prince gives her some rather unusual seeds.

The Princess in Black book
#14
The Princess in Black
Written by Dean Hale, Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Hiding her secret identity as a monster-fighting superhero, Princess Magnolia interrupts her fancy tea with the unsuspecting Duchess Wigtower to stop a big blue monster from endangering her kingdom's goats. By the author of the Newbery Honor-winning Princess Academy.

Hamster Princess book
#15
Hamster Princess
Written and illustrated by Ursula Vernon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Never a conventional princess, Harriet becomes an adventurer after learning she's cursed to fall into a deep sleep on her twelfth birthday, but after two years of slaying ogres, cliff-diving, and more with her riding quail Mumfrey, things go awry at home and she must seek a prince to set things right.

The Princess and the Dragon  book
#16
The Princess and the Dragon
Written and illustrated by Audrey Wood
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

When a princess who behaves like a dragon meets a dragon who wants to be a princess, the unexpected happens.

Princess Potty book
#17
Princess Potty
Written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Amy Cartwright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

After formally announcing that she has to go pee-pee or poo-poo, a princess rides her royal pony to the royal bathroom where she goes potty and gets a special princess sticker for her tiara as a reward.

Cinder Edna book
#18
Cinder Edna
Written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who live with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, have different approaches to life; and, although each ends up with the prince of her dreams, one is a great deal happier than the others.

A Little Princess: A Babylit(r) Friendship Primer book
#19
A Little Princess: A Babylit(r) Friendship Primer
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Meet Sara's friends with text from the original novel, A little princess, showing little ones that friends can be found in surprising places.

Princess Pigsty book
#20
Princess Pigsty
Written by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Chantal Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Tired of being a princess, the youngest of three sisters throws her crown out the window and finds happiness working in the royal kitchen and pigsty.

Dealing with Dragons book
#21
Dealing with Dragons
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Princess Cimorene, the daughter of a very proper king, runs away to live with a very powerful dragon, Kazul. This new edition includes an introduction by the author and fantastic new packaging.

Tuesdays at the Castle book
#22
Tuesdays at the Castle
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"A shape-shifting castle, a missing king and queen, and the young princess who must save her family and her kingdom. This is a clever, page-turning adventure for young fantasy readers." - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

Part-time Princess book
#23
Part-time Princess
Written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cambria Evans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A girl escapes her annoying little brother and the drudgery of school and home life when she travels to a magical kingdom each night and embarks on a series of adventures.

A Little Princess book
#24
A Little Princess
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Little Princess is a 1905 children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a revised and expanded version of Burnett's 1888 serialised novel entitled Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin's Boarding School, which was published in St. Nicholas Magazine. According to Burnett, she had been composing a play based on the story when she found out a lot of characters she had missed. The publisher asked her to publish a new, revised story of the novella, producing the novel. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.

Sadie: the Paper Crown Princess book
#25
Sadie: the Paper Crown Princess
Written by Amanda N. Evans and illustrated by Mandy Newham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Sadie is a spunky princess-in-training whose big ideas keep getting in the way of her earning her tiara. Her journey takes her from the Princess Academy on an around the world adventure where Sadie learns the meaning of being a real princess. With one last chance to prove herself worthy of a crown, Sadie follows her heart and discovers the beauty of being true to yourself.

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