I'm thinking Mulan rather than Cinderella...
September 21, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Storybooks (standalone, series or anthologies) that have empowered female characters and are appropriate for a kindergartener?

Having read an awful lot of terrible stories to my daughter, at least in the sense of them being populated with helpless or dependent female characters, I thought I'd ask the hive mind for suggestions of reading material that contains females in lead or supporting roles that are independent in thought and action.

posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Ideefixe at 10:05 AM on September 21, 2011

Say what you will about Junie B. Jones, but she is definitely independent in thought and action! (If you start with the earlier ones, she is in kindergarten.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:07 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Alice in Wonderland
posted by mattbucher at 10:12 AM on September 21, 2011

Paper Bag Princess
posted by brainmouse at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to check out this thread if you haven't seen it. The Paper Bag Princess is a good one mentioned in that thread.
posted by smilingtiger at 10:14 AM on September 21, 2011

The Practical Princess. I got this book as a child (maybe a little older than kindergarten, but grade school for sure), and loved it. Still have it.
posted by kimdog at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2011

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. Also, the rest of her Enchanted Forest Chronicles. It's smart enough that you'll probably enjoy it too, and it's something she'll enjoy reading by herself when she's old enough. Heck, I'm 28 and I still pick it up occasionally.
posted by natabat at 10:20 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Soonie And the Dragon may be a choice. It may read a touch for older kids, but it's actually three stories in sequence, and one may suit now and the others later.

Soonie isn't a princess -- she's a sort of orphan gypsy girl who gets really practical and no-nonsense when confronted with problems. In fact, the dragon she runs into ends up imprisoning her with three other princesses, and when the princesses all start crying and panicking, she gives them a whole "stop your panicking, what would your subjects think if they could see you" speech and thinks of a way to get them out of trouble.

Another story from the book involves her settling down in a town and having three guys ask her to three different village dances; she says yes. But the afternoon before each dance, she has a neighbor come ask her for help because "my son/nephew/neighbor was supposed to help me fix the barn/slop the pigs/whatever, and he took off and left it undone". Then when the swain comes to pick her up for the dance she discovers he's the guy who was supposed to repair the barn, and she tells him off for being a lazy loser and refuses to go.

(This grown-up girl discovered it at her cousin's house when she was sixteen and seriously dug it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on September 21, 2011

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

I found an older post on here that might help you too.
posted by tokidoki at 10:33 AM on September 21, 2011

I just read one of the Cam Jansen mysteries to my 4.5 year old. A bit too old for her, but she liked it well enough and the one I read seemed to match your criteria - empowered female lead with timid male sidekick.
posted by true at 10:34 AM on September 21, 2011

I was five when my grandmother started reading the Pippi Longstocking books to me.
posted by bCat at 10:35 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Amelia Bedelia books, though she isn't someone you'd want to emulate.

Bread and Jam for Frances (and the other Frances books)

The George and Martha books are pretty even-handed

The Wizard of Oz, and Ozma of Oz (a bit scary in parts, so you may want to censor as you go, but my preschool boy loved it)

Mary Poppins

And if you don't mind if the main character isn't the good guy, there's my all-time favorite: DOGZILLA!
posted by Mchelly at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2011

In a year, if not already, you are going to up to your ears in Mary Kate Osborne because of the ubiquitous Magic Treehouse series, but she also wrote a wonderful feminist version of Jack and the Beanstalk that I highly recommend: sorry can't link now but you can google it: Kate and the Beanstalk. Great illustrations, very appealing.
Also: check out a delightful little book called Princesses are not Quitters. Excellent!!
posted by Tylwyth Teg at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2011

A few more: Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores is terrific. It's specifically about a girl (well, a mouse) taking control when she's left out by the boys.
And speaking of strong girl mice: the Angelina Ballerina series is fine for kindergartners.
Ivy and Bean is a good series.
Lastly, check out Peter Sis' amazingly illustrated Madlenka books -- both Madlenka and Madlenka's Dog. Madlenka's especially great for kids who are starting to lose teeth!
posted by Tylwyth Teg at 12:25 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could try the picture books about Daisy by Kes Gray. If you click on the "more" this review of Yuk! discusses Daisy's independent mind. Here's the Daisy page on the author's website. There's a link from there to a separate Daisy site but that is too bright and Flashy for me.

Seconding The Practical Princess.
posted by paduasoy at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2011

My daughter is obsessed with Eloise (and I love her too!)
posted by hellochula at 1:55 PM on September 21, 2011

Ivy & Bean
posted by wwartorff at 2:30 PM on September 21, 2011

The Betsy-Tacy grade school books
Laura Ingalls Wilder
posted by brujita at 2:46 PM on September 21, 2011

And Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby!
posted by brujita at 2:48 PM on September 21, 2011

I'm terrible at short summaries, so I'm just linking to Amazon pages with good ones. I also have no idea if these suggestions would be well suited to the kindergarden ages.

I love Momo by Michael Ende.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman is awesome (so is the movie), might be a little creepy for a kindergardener.

I know you are looking for books, but the movie Spirited Away is a must.
posted by Zebulias at 5:03 PM on September 21, 2011

Try some of the books of Edward Eager, maybe starting with Half Magic. It is a tiny bit dated (this blog expresses that fairly well), but still would work I think.
posted by gudrun at 7:43 PM on September 21, 2011

The Ordinary Princess is one of my favorites.
posted by sparrow89 at 4:11 AM on September 22, 2011

In my opinion Coraline is too creepy for most kindergartners. And lots of adults.
posted by true at 7:06 AM on September 22, 2011

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