Add These Black Princess Books and Movies to Your Shelf

After noticing that our princess book collection lacked dark skinned princesses, I polled my friends on Facebook and Twitter for recommendations. I’ve already written about non-princessy princess books, so this list will be a bit different.

Before I share the list, just remember that it’s important to surround your children with diversity. Not just toys, books, movies, etc with people that just look like them or your family.

While there are plenty of great picture books of folk tales from around the world, I’m going to focus mainly on the generic Disney-type fairy tales that most children grow up reading. Some of these books might take a different angle from the traditional version, while some are almost the same.

My friend Adia, who is a teacher and former bookseller, reminded me about Rachel Isadora’s versions of classic princess fairy tales. Her version of  Rapunzel has beautiful dreadlocks that she lowers down the tower. Though the setting is in Africa, it’s not an “African” Rapunzel (not that I’m trying to say that African is a culture-there are many many different cultures in Africa).

Isadora’s The Princess and the Pea and The Twelve Dancing Princesses are also set in Africa. I’m a sucker for picture books with great illustrations. Just looking at those covers make me happy. Isadora also has a series of ballet books featuring an African-American girl.

Alison Crockett, an amazing singer-songwriter, is my prego buddy. We were pregnant with our youngest at the same time. Our kids were born just days apart, though Alison was super overdue. Sorry Alison. She pointed out The Gospel Cinderella by award winning author and poet Joyce Carol Thomas. It’s out of print but you can pick up used copies from Amazon.

Krista reminded me of Disney’s 1997 version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella featuring Brandi as Cinderella and Paolo Montalban as the Prince. The king and queen are an interracial couple, played by Victor Garber and Whoopi Goldberg, respectively. We can’t forget that Whitney Houston plays the fairy godmother either. As a theatre nerd, I love the lush costumes and bright colors in this version of the musical. That and all the diversity in the cast doesn’t hurt either.

Let’s not forget Disney’s Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. I know not everyone is a fan of Disney princesses, but Tiana stands out for me. Tiana has big dreams and works hard to achieve them. She doesn’t need a prince to rescue her. Instead, she’d rather do everything herself. Black, Asian or Caucasian, that’s my kind of gal!

My friend Janin gave me a great list of princess folktales from around the world. Sophia is currently fascinated with folktales so I’ll definitely be checking out. I’ll share that list another time.

Do you know of any other dark-skinned princess fairy tales to add to this list? I’d love to hear them.

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  1. Ashley B December 10, 2014
  2. Skye@PlanetJinxatron July 8, 2015
    • ThienKimL July 10, 2015