You may think wholesome princess books for all ages are those with clean, rated-G content, but we are adding to that by putting some additional qualifiers for this list. We are recommending princess books that you can use to teach good themes or characteristics to your princess lovers.
If you haven’t listened yet, head on over to our interview with Dr. Sarah Coyne, professor of human development at Brigham Young University. We talk about books that include some of your children’s (and maybe even yours as welll!) favorite characters and how they can be powerful tools in conversations about some really great life lessons.
We divided our list by age categories in order to cover anyone in your family who dreams big and just might have a penchant for the royal side of life.
Once Upon a World (series) by Chloe Perkins and Hannah Eliot (multicultural) pictured here is The Little Mermaid
This set of board books are classic fairy tales that we are all familiar with, but set in different cultures from around the world, giving fresh breath to our list of wholesome princess books in what tends to be a very anglo-centric background for many books retelling the classic princess tales. The illustrations are divine and done by artists from the country or culture each story is set in.
Talking points: What differences and similarities of the Princesses and their cultures to you and your family did you see?
While most recognize this as one of many versions of Cinderella that have gone through time, there are elements of several different fairy tales in it. Even as a kid, I loved chatting about the differences and similarities of this version with the versions we were more familiar with (coughDisneycough). While I love updated versions of classic fairy tales, sometimes there is just as much merit in exploring the folk and fairy tales of old that inspired the versions we know and love.
Talking points: Historicity of fairy/folk tales; where do historical fairy/folk tales come from?
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a classic for a reason. We love that there is Paper Bag Princess Day (March 7th) to celebrate, too. This one appears on many a list, but we couldn’t leave it off our own wholesome princess books list.
After a dragon burns down her castle with everything she owns in it and then kidnaps her betrothed prince for a snack, Princess Elizabeth calmly puts on the only thing she has left- a paper bag- and goes about outsmarting the dragon and rescuing the prince.
Talking points: How did Elizabeth feel about the prince at the end of the story vs the beginning of the story?
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer
The Olivia books are delightful, and while my (Jill’s) kids definitely do not pick up on the subtle humor in them yet, I certainly do. In this one, Olivia, the pig many of us know and love, experiences pink princess fatigue and considers some other options when dressing up, reading stories and dreaming of what to be when she grows up.
Talking points: Why did Olivia not want to be a princess? Who was it that came up with all of the alternatives to playing/being a princess?
Tangled Rapunzel’s Journal: Letting Down my Hair is an example of how diverse the Disney princess book collection really is. This is written as if it were Rapunzel’s scrapbook or picture journal. It gives more background to Rapunzel as a person and what her life was like before she left her tower. Amanda uses this to teach about journaling and family history work, art as therapy, the concept of bullet journals, art as a form of expression, various kinds of list making, and more. The song in Tangled about “wondering when will my life begin” is a deeper topic that could be discussed with this book, and why Rapunzel felt the need to follow her dreams and leave the tower in the first place.
Talking Points: What would you write in your journal? What do you think Rapunzel means when she sings “when will my life begin?” Do you think Rapunzel is happy when she is in the tower?
This is one of those re-imagined fairy tales we mentioned earlier. A series of misheard requests from the prince to Rapunzel in her town humorously leads to confusion and then happiness for all in the end…although not in the way you might expect! Full of rhymes, this one is a delightfully light-hearted option as a wholesome princess books.
Talking points: This one is honestly a great one to simply enjoy the story with the kids. It is such a clever retelling of the story and can lead to chats about how it differs from the original, if your family is familiar with that, as well.
As the longest picture book on our list, this one has plenty of material for starting conversations with your kids. While this is a version of Sleeping Beauty, as you might have guessed, the focu of the story is mainly about how a beautiful princess can be ugly on the inside and a plain girl can be beautiful.
Talking points: What are some of the things that make Miserella ugly on the inside throughout the story? What makes Plain Jane beautiful on the inside?
What is a Princess from the Step Into Reading series is a great book to illustrate what Dr. Coyne says throughout our interview with her.
This book can be a powerful tool to help encourage your reluctant child to read because of the familiar faces. As a parent you can leave it at that, which is great and there are other Disney princess Step Into Reading books as well, but there are several conversation starters here if you want as well. The idea that a princess is pretty is front and center to talk about. This can be really important given the age these books are geared toward.
Talking points: What does a princess actually do (is it hard work?) Do princesses have to look a certain way? What makes a person beautiful?
With six books in the series so far, there is plenty of Princess Harriet Hamsterbone for everyone. She is another princess who takes her fate into her own hands (paws?) and now rides her trusty quail through fairy tale after fairy tale, rodent style.
I (Jill) have only listened to the audiobooks with my older daughter, but the books are apparently graphic-hybrid novels, which…I now want to know what that means. It is an interesting one to me, as well, because while Harriet has many traits that I want my girls to emulate someday, she is also not perfect and has many qualities that I don’t want my girls to emulate, which is a great point to start conversations with.
Talking points: Harriet Hamster is a great character, but certainly not perfect. What are some things that you like about Harriet and what are some things that she could work on?
I (Jill) am such a big fan of Kate DiCamillo and her books that I dream of meeting her one day, so my recommendation may be a bit bias, but I feel like her books are becoming classics for a reason. Despereaux is one of her most well known ones (enough that it has a movie version), but is still well worth reading if you haven’t gotten to it yet. While it takes place in a castle and includes many characters you would expect (king, queen, princess…), we follow the story of the mouse who had the moxy to go and fall in love with said princess.
Talking points: A big theme of the book is redemption and forgiveness and so many of the characters’ stories can open up conversations about reactions when we go through hard or painful experiences.
The Royal Diaries (series) by various (multicultural) Elizabeth I pictured here
My (Jill) sisters and I devoured this series when we were younger. My love of history started early and I loved this series that focused on the women of history. Written as the diaries kept by royal women from all over the world, usually in their pre-teen and teenage years. While these certainly aren’t going to be 100% historically accurate, they definitely piqued my interest in a lot of women and areas of the world that I hadn’t been interested in or even knew existed before I read these books!
Talking points: These are great books to talk to a budding historian or history buff on the difference between historical fiction vs. academic history. Where do these books fit in? What are the merits and the limitations of historical fiction?
The Princess in Black series is amazing, because the protagonist, Princess Magnolia, is both a princess AND a superhero! The series was born when one of Hale’s young daughters insisted that, “princess don’t wear black” and Hale decided to prove her wrong. We are so glad she did, because the result, these books, are amazing!
Talking points: Stereotypes, secret identities and having multiple roles, responsibility, helpfulness.
Disney Princess Beginnings (series) Belle’s Discovery pictured here is everything your 4th grader+ would want, and everything you would want for her/him in a wholesome princess book.
These books have great illustrations to accompany the Disney princesses in their childhoods. Each book focuses on worthwhile lessons while staying true to the characters in the beloved movies. It particularly helps to give some deeper perspective to the princesses from the oldest movies. Great for reading aloud to get your family talking about who these princesses really are – because they are so much more than a pretty face.
Talking points: What do you want to be like when you grow up? If someone made a movie about you, what would you want it to be like? What did (character) do when they were younger that helped them become who they are in the movie?
Tangled- The Story of Rapunzel is a great example to have on this list for a way to slow down a princess movie and talk about what’s happening.
These books follow the movie script, so it isn’t confusing, and makes it easy to pause and discuss what you would like to focus on in your family. Over the course of reading this particular book, Amanda’s family defined and discussed optimism, talked about how different people have different personalities, what is right and wrong, how to right your wrongs, selfishness, vanity, hope, and more.
Talking points: Take any of the princess movies your child loves, and dissect it. After selecting what you want to talk about, choose one or two to start with and read the book together! Here’s another post to go in depth about this.
Jasmine’s New Pet is a great introduction to graphic novels. There is a bit of a learning process to reading comics and graphic novels, and this book helps ease young children into the concept of frames, sequencing, etc. Amanda was reading Calvin and Hobbes with her 5-year-old, who enjoys the comics themselves (though the humor is often far above her head), but realized she would benefit from something just like this graphic novel. The book itself focuses on Rajah, which is fun. Themes to focus on include the problem solving process.
Talking points: What problems have you solved today, and how did you do it? Can you help me solve this problem I have? Ask the child to place their finger on the frames as you read through the book.
Diana Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale
We know, we know. Shannon Hale again. But, yes. Shannon Hale AGAIN. She knocks wholesome princess books of all kinds out of the park, and this graphic novel is no exception. Diana before she is Wonder Woman has lots of growing-up problems to solve. A particularly good theme to discuss with this book is healthy friendships and solving problems you have with your friends.
Talking points: What does being a good friend mean? What is forgiveness? Have you ever apologized to someone and not really meant it? Is it easy to say you’re sorry? What is jealousy?
This series can help jumpstart conversations about the roles you were born into and whether or not they are good. It also includes underlying themes of gratitude, problem-solving as a team, keeping an open mind, thinking through things. Mega Princess is also included in Michelle’s list of graphic novels over at The Book Report, so be sure to look there for more graphic novel reading ideas.
This trilogy has one particular aspect that stands out in a princess book: the heroine saves herself when she is captured. Things you can point out to your little princess include biracial families, what true love is, grit/persistence, and prayer.
Princeless: Save Yourself (series) written by Jeremy Whitley
The princess saves herself again in this one! This book may be best suited to talk about gender roles and princess stereotypes, especially when keeping in mind how the males are portrayed. Where the protagonist defies typical princess roles, the men fit the generic mold and her twin brother behaves how one would expect a typical princess (or at least female) to behave when conforming to gender roles. Race is also a discussion point, as well as actually business ethics and ethics/integrity generally.
Talking points: What are gender roles? What is a stereotype? What is feminism? How do expectations affect people? What is rasism?
Princess Books – YA
The Lunar Chronicles (series) by Marissa Meyer is a popular series that well deserves the acclaim, in our opinions. If anyone could write a book about cyborgs, androids and fairy tale characters — while managing to keep Amanda hooked all the way through, it is Marissa Meyer. This series is a great one for your teen or your adult self, and our list of wholesome princess books wouldn’t be complete without it.
Talking points: Perhaps one of the most obvious themes weaving through the books is discrimination. Others include redemption, judgement, leadership, government structure and international relations, power and seeking power, and even into healthcare.
This is a series of fantasy books written in the early 90s, but they are still delightful today. They follow Princess Cimorene, who never quite got on board with the life of a princess and ends up offering her services to a dragon when her parents try to betroth her to a prince. There are many nods and winks to some more traditional princess stories, but Cimorene’s journey is a new and unique one.
Talking points: While Cimorene is a great character to chat about, the dragons themselves are very vibrant and nuanced characters in this story. What do all the different dragons add to the story? Which dragons do you relate to? Which ones would you be willing to be captured by? Why?
This is one that neither of us have read (yet), but was recommended to us by so many trusted friends when we started asking around about favorite princess books that we couldn’t not include it! It has everything! Princesses! Unicorns! Magical worlds! A collie dog!
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine may be the one, single book that both Jill and Amanda would recommend you read this very instant if you haven’t already. And if you have, we would like to heartily encourage you to read it again. And again. And again. This spin on a Cinderella story is full of great things, most notable being the fantastic main character: a strong female lead who is independent, funny, smart, and flawed in ways that make her approachable and human. In short, this is everything you’d want in your library of wholesome princess books.
Talking points: What would your life be like if you had to be obedient? Is it easy or hard for you to keep secrets? Did you guess how the curse would be broken? Would Ella make a good queen, why/why not? Are there still finishing schools – would you want to go to one?
Shannon Hale is an amazingly versatile author (not many authors can navigate writing graphic novels, juvenile fiction, Young Adult fiction AND adult fiction quite as seamlessly as she does!) and many of her books, such has her Goose Girl, Princess Academy and Ever After High series will be perfect for anyone looking for a well-written, unique princess story.
Talking points: She has so many books that you can start pretty much any sort of conversation you want using her stories! Hale writes some very solid female protagonists with many characteristics well worth emulating and well worth exploring in discussions.
Beauty may be McKinley’s most well-known work, but she wrote another retelling of Beauty and the Beast 20 years later called Rose Daughter. Another directly related princess tale is her retelling of Sleeping Beauty, called Spindle’s End. Each book is expertly written and equally enchanting.
Talking points: Rose Daughter is slightly more mature (though still clean) and is great to talk about emotions and symbolism, and obsession. All three books are good for talking about the nature of love, if “instalove” is possible, or what it takes to have a good relationship with your significant other. Kindness is a strong theme as well. What does it mean to be kind-hearted? Is there a difference between being kind or being nice? Is it worthwhile to be kind?
This book is grouped with Ella Enchanted and Goose Girl by Janssen Bradshaw from Everyday Reading. We need no more recommendation than that! Janssen mentions in her review that the main character, Sinda, isn’t overly perfect. She is normal, makes mistakes – she’s human. In a world of perfectly primped princesses in all forms of media, this is a great topic to discuss.
There’s no shortage of fairytale princess books in the multiple series written by Melanie Cellier. These are very new to the world of audiobooks (produced in 2019-2020), so you may need to ask your library for them if you’re looking for them on Libby. Cellier weaves the most popular princess stories together with ease, creating a very regal and enticing tapestry. They are clean, wholesome princess books, and give depth to the characters many may only seen on the big screen.
Talking points: (There are a lot here because there are a lot of books) What are the different kinds of governments, and what kinds use lineage for the heirs? How are these stories different than what you have heard for Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc. and what do you like/dislike about these? What is the worth of a person – do royals (or leaders) deserve better treatment than others? What difference does having money or a title make in the way someone may be raised and their success in life? Is it possible to be critical of yourself and still be kind to and confident in yourself?
More Book Lists for Princess Lovers
For more princess books (because really, who can get enough of them?), check out a few more recommendation lists:
Princess Books for all ages Wrap-up
This post has been incredibly long, but each of these books are beloved by us, and we still feel like we have missed some really good ones! Do you have a favorite princess book? Or your child? Let us know in the comments so others can find it!
You may be interested in:
Don’t miss our related superhero book list full of great reads for all ages.
Coming soon is our YA and adult booklist we have divided into different categories to help you find your next read.