When your kids want a good book to read, these princess books are exciting, suspenseful adventures with strong protagonists! They feature princesses who aren't content to stay at home and wait for Prince Charming.
Instead, these princess chapter books and novels for kids feature strong warriors, runaway adventurers, and independent thinkers.
This princess book list is not just for girls. I cannot emphasize that enough. Categorizing reading material by gender is harmful and teaches boys that learning about girls is not worth their time. Is that really the message you want to give your children?
Note: this list contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn a commission for this blog. Bookshop also supports independent bookstores.
For princess books that are reimaginings of traditional fairy tales like "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella," visit my book list of the best fairy tale retellings.
Princess Chapter Books
PRINCESS CORA AND THE CROCODILE by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Brian Floca
Princess Cora is bored! As heir to the throne she is supposed to follow all sorts of tedious rules and regimens, but what she really wants to do is get dirty and have wild adventures. She writes a letter to her fairy godmother and the result is the appearance of a very unwell-behaved crocodile! Loads of great illustrations, big text, and humor make this a great princess chapter book for beginning readers! Ages 6 and up.
HARRIET THE INVINCIBLE (Hamster Princess series) by Ursula Vernon
When Harriet Hamsterbone finds out she is destined to prick her finger and fall into a deep sleep at age 12, she takes her fate into her own hands, decides she is invincible and goes on a series of adventures with her trusty quail friend, Mumfrey. Super giggle-worthy. Ages 6 and up.
THE PRINCESS IN BLACK (series) by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
When trouble is near, Princess Magnolia and her horse/unicorn spring into action! Donning her secret identity, she fights the local monsters when they harass the shepherd's charges. Tongue-in-cheek humor, color illustrations, spare text, and a bit of action make this a great book for early readers. Ages 5 and up.
THE PERILOUS PRINCESS PLOT (Buckle and Squash series) by Sarah Courtauld
Don't be alarmed if you hear uproarious giggles coming from your child's room while they read this book. Hard-working, practical Eliza and her dreamy, prince poster-collecting sister, Gertrude, are total opposites. When Gertrude goes off one day to find a prince and instead gets captured, her sister heads out to rescue her. Ages 7 and up.
THE ORDINARY PRINCESS by M.M. Kaye
Originally published in 1980, this tale of Princess Amy of Phantasmorania, who is blessed with the gift of ordinariness is a pleasant read. Like many literary princesses, she has little desire to sit around an embroider, so instead she runs away and becomes an assistant kitchen maid in a nearby palace. Lo and behold, who should she meet? An ordinary prince, of course! An excellent choice for advanced young readers, ages 7 and up.
Princess Graphic Novels
THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS (graphic novel) by Johan Troïanowski
I LOVED this princess graphic novel (originally published in French)! Robin refuses to obey the princess rules of staying home and sitting quietly. She wants an adventure and by golly, she is going to have one, even if it means out-running her parents. Absolutely great fun. Ages 6 and up.
PRINCESS PRINCESS EVER AFTER by Katie O'Neill
Princess Sadie is locked in a tower and the offers of rescues by princes is getting tiresome. Enter Princess Amira and her unicorn! The two become fast friends and set out on a rollicking adventure full of ogres, wicked sisters, and yet another prince (perhaps this one isn't so bad). By the end, Sadie and Amira have grown in self-confidence and come a decision about what they want their own happily-ever-after to look like. Ages 8 and up.
QUEEN OF THE SEA (series) by Dylan Meconis
This is a really fun graphic novel inspired by the life and times of Elizabeth I. Margaret, an orphan, lives on an island in a convent. But her world is upended when the banished Queen Eleanor comes to the island and Margaret learns the truth about her own identity. This is a fun, fast-paced story which still manages to convey a lot of detail about medieval life. Ages 10 and up.
Middle Grade Princess Books
THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS (series) by Kate Coombs
Find it: Your Library | Amazon
Why-oh-why is this book out of print? Find it at your library! Princess Margaret does not want to be married off. Her parents have set up a contest in which they will bestow her hand to the hero who defeats a dragon, a witch, and a band of bandits. "Meg" will have nothing to do with this so she escapes her tower and sets off to warn the impending victims, who are actually harmless characters. This is a fun, humorous and quick read. Be sure to pick up the sequel, The Runaway Dragon. Ages 8 and up.
SPARROWS IN THE WIND by Gail Carson Levine
Sparrows in the Wind is a historical fantasy set before and during the Trojan War. Cassandra, princess of Troy, narrates the first half of the story, describing how Apollo cursed her with the gift of prophecy. When Cassandra sees the tragedy of war, she befriends a lesser wind god, who helps her in her efforts to prevent the war from starting. Rin, an Amazon warrior princess, narrates the second half. She is part of a band of Amazons asked to assist the Trojans, and while in Troy makes friends with Cassandra. Levine's page-turning tale is an excellent choice for readers who like mythology and strong female protagonists. Ages 10 and up.
PENNYROYAL ACADEMY (series) by M.A. Larson
After rescuing a prince from a witch, Evie ends up at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights train in combat. Princesses learn how to battle witches and sew pretty dresses; knights learn how to kill dragons. Everyone is instilled with the values of “Courage, Compassion, Kindness, and Discipline.” Ages 11 and up.
HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS by Merrie Haskell
Aspiring author Princess Tilda is an independent-minded princess who has never even considered slaying dragons because of her disfigured foot. However, her cousin, Ivo, wishes to steal her kingdom, and so she ends up fleeing her home. The ensuing adventure involves magic, capture, a menacing Blue-beard character, and (of course) dragon slaying. Ages 9 and up.
SOLIMAR: THE SWORD OF THE MONARCHS by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Pam Muñoz Ryan's books are often filled with magical realism (one of my favorite genres!) that whisk readers away to another time and place. Solimar, who has always been mesmerized by the monarch butterflies on their annual migration, is set to officially become a princess on her quinceañera. On one of her observations, she receives a mysterious rebozo, or shawl, which helps her intuit the future. Things get more complicated when a neighboring kingdom threatens the land and Solimar must now go on a dangerous quest to save her kingdom and protect the monarchs. Ages 8 and up.
THE BIRTHDAY BALL by Lois Lowry
Princess Patricia Priscilla is bored with her life, and a bit spoiled. She is horrified at the idea of her impending 16th birthday ball, at which she is required to choose a husband. She offers her maid a chance to spend the day reading Alice in Wonderland, in exchange for her peasant clothes and spends the next several days attending the local school. This is a highly entertaining story in which everyone seems to have a good time, there is lots of delicious word play and plenty of quirky characters. We enjoyed this as a read aloud and my son got quite a kick out of it and had a grand time laughing at the foibles of the characters, especially the ridiculous suitors. Ages 8 and up.
IRON HEARTED VIOLET by Kelly Barnhill
Princess Violet is not exactly the most traditional of princesses in the kingdom but she finds her way, anyway. When she and her best friend Demetrius discover a mysterious book and accidentally release a malignant spirit, Violet must reverse the magic. The court story-teller narrates the book, giving it an interesting narrative viewpoint, which comments on the nature of storytelling, and how we decide how stories are told and authenticated. Ages 9 and up.
TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE (series) by Jessica Day George
Every Tuesday the castle adds a new feature; it could be a room, a hallway, or a turret, or something else surprising. Celia spends her time exploring and mapping the castle. Celia's brother is off at wizard school and when their parents travel for his graduation, the castle comes under attack. The castle aids Celia and two of her siblings as they try to keep the marauders at bay. Ages 8 and up.
MORE: Books about Castles
PRINCESS ACADEMY (series) by Shannon Hale
In the quarry village of Mount Eskel, a tight-knit community lives a hard life but when a prophecy foretells that one of the girls will be the next princess, all the "eligible maidens" (I had to get that phrase in somewhere) are sent to an isolated school. Shannon Hale has written about how boys love her book, and are too often told they shouldn't read books about princesses, so let's dispense with the gendered reading nonsense, shall we?
THE GREAT GOOD THING (series) by Roderick Townley
Do characters seem real beyond the pages? Well, that's because they are. In this metafictional tale, Sylvie decides that 80 years of living the same story over and over as the character in a book has gotten a bit dull. She decides to break the most important rule of all book character rules: she looks up at The Reader. Townley explores the wonder of books and how they merge with our imaginations and lives. I heartily recommend this for grown-ups, too. Ages 10 and up.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo
Masterful and suspense-filled plot lines about a mouse in love with a princess, a rat who loves soup and light, and a not-so-bright peasant girl all come together in a marvelous tale which will get your kids thinking about love and forgiveness. Ages 8 and up.
THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell
The princesses of Sylvania are under a curse that forces them to spend their nights dancing. Reveka, an herbalist apprentice, seeks to find the key to breaking the curse so she can collect the large reward and open her own herbery. So far, everyone who has attempted to break the curse has either disappeared or fallen asleep. Reveka's journey to the "Sunless House" underground to solve the dancing princess mystery is dangerous, indeed. I enjoyed the combination of humor, suspense and magic! Ages 10 and up.