Raising a child on traditional Fairy Tale stereotypes is a dangerous proposition. You run the risk of bringing up a little girl who thinks she needs to be pretty' princess waiting around to be rescued or a little boy who thinks he needs to be in control of other people's lives and decisions. Either way, this is a terrifying thought to take into the future with us because we don't want to be raising another generation of humans who think that women should be soft and dependent and men should act entitled and claim ownership over these women, their bodies and their mind.
You may think I'm ruining childhood by deconstructing a 'simple' sweet story but I think not. Nothing is as simple as it seems and the responsibilites of raising a child include being honest and truthful irrespective of how difficult we may find that. Children are capable of a lot more clarity, intelligence and sensitivity than your average adult, in my opinion. I believe it may be time for us to re-evaluate these problematic notions of gender and not blindly pass them along to them.. Not reading Sleeping Beauty or the popular versions of Cinderella (I don't include the Brothers Grimm version here) will not make your offspring's childhood less magical. Growing up in an environment where there is no space for questioning and curiosity will. Magic is in exploring, learning from your mistakes and making your own destiny. Magic is not about waiting locked up in a tower for somebody to come and rescue you.
We belong to a generation that grew up being told that that these gendered constructs are 'normal' and even desirable. Drop the veil of childhood nostalgia and take a look at where it has left us. I certainly don't want to be responsible for raising another insensitive adult so you are unlikely to find those kind of 'children's fairy tale' books on our book shelves.
Having said all that, there are some days when you want a bit of fairy tales and princesses and dragons in your life and for those days I have these non-princess-ey princess book picks. These books feature three princesses from different cultures. There are wizards and dragons and even a royal airplane. There is also a conspicuous lack of a prince in all three books.
The Princess and The Wizard by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Lydia Monks
Publisheer : Macmillan
The book starts out a bit like a 'typical ' pink and glitter filled princess book about a blonde haired blue eyed princess, a wizard and a fairy godmother but just when you expect your usual (slightly insipid) Prince Charming to come to the rescue the plot goes in another direction. Here you meet a clever little Princess who is in control of her own situation and escapes the vile wizard by outwitting him.
Never Say No To A Princess by Tracey Corderoy
Illustrated by Kate Leake
Publisher : Alison Green Books (Scholastic)
The next princess is another blue eyed blonde who lives in a pink sparkly castle, of course. This is where the stereotype ends though for this is a cleverly subversive book where an entitled little princess is taught manners by a dragon! Once again, not a single random prince in sight.
Princess Easy Pleasy by Natasha Sharma and Priya Kuriyan
Publisher : Karadi Tales
This is my favourite princess of the three because she is a modern day Indian princess with everyday problems. Princess Easy Pleasy is an insufferable little girl who is never pleased by anything! By the end of the book she learns that being so difficult and precious is a bit over rather and that it's a lot more fun being a regular adventurous kid.