I knew when I asked the storytimers for theme suggestions at the end of winter session that I might get some suggestions I couldn’t accommodate, but also that I might get some I did not want to accommodate. Princesses combined a bit of both. First, finding princess books that are both preschool appropriate and equally interesting to the “pink and frills are for losers” set can be a challenge. Second, I don’t identify with the princess camp. Too often, it celebrates things that keep women down, and I’m not even talking about waiting around for Prince Charming to save you. Before you even get to the relationship distortion aspect, you’ve got the impractical clothing and appearance obsession aspects. Still, I took it as a challenge: Design a princess storytime that all of the storytimers would find palatable and that would not make me feel like I was pushing an anti-feminist agenda to 3-year-olds.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen
Emphasizes the wide variety of activities princesses (read: girls) can do, including sports, gardening, and more, all while wearing a sparkly crown.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
A dragon burns up everything a princess owns and kidnaps the prince she’s supposed to marry, so she puts on a paper bag (all she can find) and goes to rescue him, which she does by using her wits. The prince then tells her to get lost and come back when she’s properly attired, and she tells him off. The end.
Concept: Knowledge and wisdom is the true power! Also, don’t waste time with people who only care about your looks, an important message for both genders.
Lovabye Dragon by Barbara Joose
A little princess wants a dragon for a friend, and vice versa, and finally they meet. Super sweet, and the inclusion of the dragon made it more palatable for those who aren’t nuts about princesses.
There Was a Princess Long Ago
Curtsy Like a Princess (Tune: Skip to My Lou)
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Juggle like a jester just like so…
Fly like a fairy just like so…
Roar like a dragon, just like so…
The Princess Wore Her Red Crown
Sing it to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress. To make the set, I used our crown die and ran five different colors of felt crowns.
Source: Story Time Secrets
We made toilet paper castles similar to these from Crafty Morning. Over the holidays, we had a teen volunteer looking for projects, so I had her cut the battlement notches from a ton of cardboard tubes, then the storytimes and grownups taped the tubes together and decorated them with crayons and sparkly stickers.
How It Went:
I felt a little tense going into this one because of the book Paper Bag Princess, in which the princess calls the prince a bum. I wasn’t sure how the grownups would react. We all know Munsch is controversial in general. However, my audience tends to run to the more liberal end of the parenting spectrum, so I took the leap. Most of the grownups clapped at the ending! Overall, I think I pulled this off. We did have one boy come in midway through and start furtively whispering to his mother when he realized we were talking about princesses, but when no one attempted to force a tutu on him, he settled down. I am in no great rush to take on this theme again, but I’m glad I rose to the challenge.