In my past few years as a mom (geez, have I really only been a mom for 4 years? it feels like it’s all I’ve ever been!), I’ve met many a small child. And many a small girl. And I’m not sure I’ve met one yet that doesn’t like princesses in some form or another. And yet, I’m not sure I’ve met a mom who has not apologized, in some form or another, for their daughter’s princess obsession. And the apology always includes the condition “I was never into any of this stuff.”
Well, after meeting hundreds of princess-loving girls with their hundreds of princess-hating moms, I have to say that maybe we are misremembering slightly. And I would probably be guilty of the same thing. After all, I would definitely say I wasn’t into princesses as a child. But when I watch Cinderella with my son, who likes his own fair share of Disney princesses, I can quote most of the movie. So, um, I must have been at least a little bit into them? And my husband probably wouldn’t say he was into princesses either, but he knows all the lyrics to Aladdin and thinks Walt Disney wrote The Little Mermaid. So . . . maybe we are kidding ourselves somewhat?
And if kids are going to be into princesses, we can make the most of it with good princess role models. This princess, who lives, as you might guess, on 8th Street, is one of those.
Title: Princess of 8th Street
Author/Illustrator: Linas Alsenas
Genre: Picture book/Realistic Fiction
Age: 2 – 7
When the Princess of 8th street, who is not maybe the best at making friends because she seems rather shy, is forced by circumstances of her mother’s errands to interact with other kids at the park, she is timid at first. But then she meets . . . the Princess of 10th street! And that, which I think is a brilliant punch line for a story, is about all there is (and all there needs to be) in this simple book. Kids who read the story will learn that there IS room in a princess’s life to make a few friends. And there’s room within a two block radius for two princesses.
Parents of shy kids or kids that have had a hard time joining in playground activities, can use the book to show how it might be scary to meet new friends, but that something good may come of it. And even though a kid may feel different and isolated, hiding in dress-up costumes, there may be someone else out there with the same fantasies! (In fact, if they are princess fantasies, that’s almost guaranteed.)
Or, if you have a very outgoing kid, the book might be used as a way to suggest some more quiet, creative play times. Maybe you could have a tea party like the princess in the book and bring out the inner imagination in an otherwise rough-and-tumble child. (The tea party could be outside in a tree house and could involve a less dainty snack than tea, if that’s what it takes.) It’s all about finding your child’s comfort zone and stretching it just a little.
I love to use use books to stretch my kids’ idea of the world, to let them see new ideas, and then to convince them to try to experience them for themselves. It’s not over when you close the cover!
What do you think? Were YOU a princess person growing up? BE HONEST!