Princess Books for my 4 year old

Bubbles is 4, and in the last couple of months has developed a keener interest in common girly things like the colour pink, and the idea of princesses. Through her interactions among her friends, she has also started to categorize certain things according to gender - eg. dinosaurs and robots are boy things; cooking, ballerinas and princesses are girl things.

I am watching these developments like a hawk, and have made it a point to explain (once is never enough), that many of the things she has highlighted are neither boy nor girl things, but just things, for all to appreciate. Still, she was horrified when I picked a beautiful inflatable solar system set as a birthday present for one of her little girlfriends, as opposed to an addition to her friend's toy kitchen. She relented in the end, when I showed her how cool the system was, and how each inflatable planet can be hung from the ceiling. (I bought her a set too, by the way, and will hang it up once we re-do her bedroom.)

Thankfully, she is by nature quite a practical person, and she would almost rather pick out a comfortable but non-girly outfit, than a fancy dress that restricts her movement. Even her desire to paint her nails was short-lived. One paint, and she decided that it was not a big deal, and not worth the wait of sitting still to get her nails pretty!

I believe in allowing her space to explore and grow in her tastes and preferences, while always making available alternatives and possibilities. If she wants to always choose pink, or princess-y things, or play pretty dress-up with her friends, so be it. But I will also talk about the beauty of other colours, the beauty from within, different types of princesses other than the sparkly, fluffy ones, and offer new scenarios for pretend play to take place. We also watched a ballet performance by the Singapore Dance Theatre, where there were many male ballerinas, to debunk the idea that ballet is only for girls.

Still, I cringed when Roboman bought her a Cinderella book that she asked for, and have decided to restrict the screening of Princess Sofia The First on television, as there are themes I am not comfortable with.

Recently, a friend gifted my daughters two books from the Princess Parables Series:
Having not been acquainted with this series, my first reaction was to think "Oh no, another princess themed present!". Bubbles was thrilled of course. Princesses and Books! Two of her favourite things. I was immediately asked to read them, and to my pleasant surprise these turned out to be fantastic books that I would highly recommend.

This series is about five princesses who are sisters, and each book tells a story with a focus on one of the sisters. As with their names, each princess has her own strength and quality, and these are highlighted in the adventures they get themselves into. The stories are also loosely based on the parables in the Bible, and at the end of each book, there is a description about how the story parallels a specific Bible parable, and describes the lessons that we can learn from it. I like how the princesses come across as thoughtful, hardworking and proactive - qualities that I would like Bubbles to develop. 

Bubbles has read Princess Faith's Mysterious Garden and Princess Hope and the Mysterious Treasure. She loves both books, and I am already planning to get her these other 3 books:
  1. Princess Charity's Courageous Heart
  2. Princess Joy's Birthday Blessings
  3. Princess Grace and the Little Lost Kitten
Even if a child is not a princess fan, these books, with their captivating stories, will delight.

Another book with a princess theme (or perhaps an anti-princess theme) I would recommend is Olivia and the Fairy Princesses. This book describes Olivia true to her form - wanting to be different from everyone else, and therefore being hilariously anti-princess. When we first read this book, I think Bubbles was a little confused, and surprised by the anti-princess concept. It gave her a lot of food for thought, and opened up opportunities for conversations about fitting in with friends; when it is okay to be different etc. This book is a little darker, and may throw up more questions from a curious child. But I like that is helps balance the onslaught of other pink princess stories that are everywhere these days!

For those who plan Christmas gifts ahead of time, these books could be on your shopping list!


Anya & Arielle's mom said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I've been cringing at my 3.5yo's preference for pink, purple and everything princessy. My girlfriends constantly teased me on how an anti-princess / pinkish me can raise such girly girls.

Just last night, her cousin, at the request of his mom, called me o ask about all our Chinese Zodiac signs, when I ended the phone call, Anya asked me to explain what the phone all was about. When I explained and told her her sign was a tiger, she piped indignantly, "Nooo... I'm a princess!".

While I also try to neutralize the effect and get her interested in other stuff and colors, I glad your recommendation came along - princess books that I can read with her without making 101 'disclaimers'!

Unknown said...

Yes, they do get these ideas even if we don't feed it to them!

I think it's great that you very consciously steer her away from stereotypes. I too want to buy them bob the builder stuff and cars but we have too much stuff already!

On the other hand, sometimes I think I could just let her I indulge in this for a while since it has its own fun aspect. But as with everything, a balance I guess!

Corsage@A Dollop Of Me said...

Anya & Arielle's mom:
I'm so glad this post meant something to you! I was thrilled to have discovered these books. I do think this pink princess thing is a phase. Our children will be going through many different phases in their growing up years, we just have to be there for them, and seek God for wisdom to make wise choices while doing so!

Corsage@A Dollop Of Me said...

L Lee:
I did actually buy a whole set of trucks (helmet and tools belt too) off Craigslist! Just to balance out the gifts my girls were receiving. I do consciously allow her to indulge in this pink world as I experienced what it was like to be denied permission to do certain things that are arguably due to age-related phases. I do agree that it can be fun and even educational, as long as if it is not excessive!

Susan said...

Sophie is a fiesty girl who for a period of time was obsessed with Thomas the tank engine because the boys in her class were going on and on about it. So she has a few thomas and we even brought to to watch a Thomas movie. Now she's out grown pink and purple for her favourite colour and has taken a liking to orange, which is a surprise since I'm big on all things pink. But I guess I like her just the way she is, 80% girly with some rough edges around to rough it out :)