NYT writer suggests books with strong girls

Peggy Orenstein’s book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, has helped to incite a national dialogue on how kids’ media and products influence girls, which ReelGirl loves because that’s supposed to be the whole purpose of this blog.

I write “supposed to be” because, as any one who reads this blog knows, I’ve strayed far from my initial my mission. But once again (I think my last time was New Year’s) I commit to making ReelGirl a resource where parents can go to look up a toy or a product to get some ideas about how and why it could be good for girls (and boys for that matter because gender stereotyping, ultimately, isn’t so fabulous for anyone. )

Lisa Belkin, a writer for the New York Times suggested these books. I hope to read them and let you know my thoughts. Please let me know yours!

One thing parents can do, then, is add examples of femininity without frills. To that end, following up on our conversation here last week about children’s books in general, here’s the start of a list of books for young girls that turn more than a few stereotypes on their heads while remaining fun reads. Of course, as with any children’s book, read it first, because my idea of what is good for your child might not be the same as yours.

“An Undone Fairy Tale”, by Ian Lendler. A slapstick treat. The princess rescues herself.

“The Enchanted Forest Chronicles”, by Patricia C. Wrede.  A four-book series (I have linked to the first one) in which a strong-minded princess saves kind dragons.

“Princess Grace” by Mary Hoffman. A girl who loves princesses learns that real ones in history have done far more than just lie around and look pretty. In the end she chooses to emulate an African princess in a Kente cloth dress.

“Do Princesses Scrape their Knees?” by Carmela LaVigna Coyle. Part of a series (others are “Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?” and “Do Princesses Kiss Frogs.) The titles tell the story.

“Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella” by Susan Lowell. The ball is a rodeo and Cindy earns her prince’s respect after her fairy godmother gives her “gumption” and a set of diamond studded spurs.

“Cinder Edna” by Ellen Jackson. Edna lives next door to Ella, and while Ella depends on her fairy godmother to change her life, Edna earns money mowing lawns. Guess which one gets the Happier Ever After?

“The Very Fairy Princess” by Julie Andrews and her daughter, author Emma Watson Hamilton. Geraldine believes she is a princess, even though her brother says princesses “don’t have scabby knees.”

“The Secret Lives of Princesses” by Philippe Lechermeier. An illustrated “history” of quirky, independent princesses.

“Zog” by Julia Donaldson. An accident prone dragon and the princess he “captures.” He gets hurt, she helps him, and she becomes a doctor.

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