17 Books for Strong, Smart Girls

Before I had a daughter, I was 100% anti-princess. But becoming mom to a sparkly, frilly, twirly pink princess tends to change one’s mind. And, well, the truth is, I love singing along to Disney movies, too!

That’s not to say I love the message of those movies. Not at all. When it comes to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella (my kiddo’s personal favorite), I tend to fast-forward through some parts and make up my own words for others. The Little Mermaid has a dreadful message, so as catchy as its songs are [and they are catchy!], I’m always on the lookout for stories about strong, smart princesses to balance out our collection.

Over the past couple of years we’ve found a lot of great princess books that feature smart girls doing kind and brave and otherwise amazing things. (Many thanks to Tara for pointing us in the direction of many of them!) The best part is that a lot of these books are part of a series, so you’ve actually getting way more than 17 books for your little girl!

Here are some princess books we love:

Books About Smart & Spunky Princesses

And because I wouldn’t want to swing too far the other way on the princess spectrum, I do have a few more great books that don’t feature princesses but just regular girls (or pigs or bears or . . .). I could’ve left them out and kept my focus on princesses. But these are some of our very favorites.

More Books about Strong (& Sweet) Girls

Now, I don’t want to leave you thinking that while I’m coming to terms with princesses, I’m becoming anti-Disney-princess. I’m not! Belle is my absolute favorite, what with her books and sassy refusal of Gaston’s advances (never mind her falling in love with a beast, just never mind that). And Rapunzel in Tangled is great, too.

Today, though, is the opening day for Disney’s latest princess movie, and for the first time ever, it features a princess who is most definitely NOT looking for her prince and is the strong-willed star of her own show!

I got the chance to view a screening of Brave earlier this week – in 3D, no less! My parents and Annalyn went with me, and we all agreed that it is a great movie. However, it is not a great movie for a four-year-old. Unfortunately, Annalyn was scared during almost the entire movie. While it’s beautifully made, the movie is also visually dark with majorly intense scenes throughout that terrified my kiddo.

Brave would be a great movie for parents and older kids to watch together. The story follows a young girl who defies her mother and does not, under any circumstances, want to be like her mother. Of course, because it’s a movie, the princess and her mom end up having to work together and eventually understand each other’s point of view. They work through it in a fairly realistic way, though, and I think it could prompt some great conversations.

A few more details about the movie (details, not spoilers!): First, seeing it in 3D was AWESOME. The artistry, creativity and technology involved in that blows my mind. Second, if you’re worried about the mystical elements of the story, I thought they were subtle and no more offensive than fairy godmothers or super long hair with magical healing abilities.

Next, if you’re hoping for lots of fun, catchy music, you won’t find it here. But you will find a lovely instrumental soundtrack (one that I’m hoping to download soon). Finally, every character has a pretty thick Scottish accent. I didn’t have any trouble understanding them, of course, but I think Annalyn did and wonder if that added to her confusion and anxiety.

Here’s the bottom line about Brave: Disney’s latest princess movie is a funny and moving story about a courageous princess who stands up for herself and changes her fate (and, oh yeah, fights with her mom and eventually makes up with her). The animation is fantastic, and the music is beautiful. And most importantly, the story will encourage great conversations between parents and kids.

How do you feel about princesses? Will you go see Brave? What’s your favorite princess story?

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