Praise For ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter’

“A must-read for any parent trying to stay sane in a media saturated world.”
—Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl

“At times this book brings tears to your eyes—tears of frustration with today’s girl-culture and also of relief because somebody finally gets it.”
—Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety

“Every mother needs to read this.”
—Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother

more praise >

Recent Articles

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The New York Times Magazine

December 7, 2014
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The California Sunday Magazine

July 27, 2014
The Wrong Approach to Breast Cancer
The New York Times

June 14, 2014
The Battle Over Dress Codes
The New York Times

March, 2014
Beauty Self-Acceptance--At Last
MORE Magazine

September, 2013
Call of the Wild
MORE Magazine

September 1, 2013
Grieving Traditions Lost In Berkeley Camp Flames
The San Francisco Chronicle

more articles >

Fight Fun with Fun!

Books, Toys, Movies, Clothing, Resources, Ideas, Suggestions, Recommendations That You Can Say YES To!

This is a work in progress, badly organized and yes, I know it is largely product-based. Obviously your girl should engage in outdoor activities and sports; pursue arts, music, science and culture; play with gender-neutral toys and toys that challenge notions of gender; do all kinds of things. But to specifically counter the hyper-feminized consumer culture, to find things you can say “yes” to that feel equal rather than compensatory to “girlie” products,  try some of the following. And PLEASE email me your thoughts and ideas so I can include them! (Most of these suggestions are for girls approximately ages 3-9. Books are listed first, but scroll down–way down–for other things)

Also: don’t forget to read books, watch movies, play games with strong female characters to boys–they need those images too.

One more note: I’ve linked to Amazon a lot. Not because I endorse Amazon, but because I’m lazy. Since I began this project there is a new site called A Mighty Girl that sells books and movies about girls of courage, wisdom and spirit. Please patronize them!

Oh, and another: there are, indeed, a lot of books about princesses here. That’s because a lot of wonderful classic (and not-so-classic) books for kids really are about royalty. I highly recommend a good Grimm Brothers book to adults. Stories like “The Girl Without Hands” and “The Robber Bridegroom” and “Fitcher’s Bird”  are archetypal and feature strong female characters. They are also way, way, WAY too bloody for little kids.

And one more: Here are some general lists, compiled by others, of “anti-princess” books. I can’t vouch for this one, having not read them all (let me know if you have), though it is extensive.

This one,  from  NYT’s “The Motherlode,” is more of an “anti-princess princess” reading list (lots of other great ideas in the reader comments, too!)

And The Diamond in the Window blog has great discussions of kids’ lit. If you email her, she’ll even offer recommendations tailored to your child.

PICTURE BOOKS (Power Princesses and non-Princess; emphasis on fantasy, myth):

Ages 0-3

Hush Little Baby

Hush little baby, don’t say a word,/Mama’s going to show you a hummingbird./If that hummingbird should fly,/Mama’s going to show you the evening sky.


The old house in Paris still stands….

Ages 3-7

My First Little House Books

Picture book versions of some of the stories from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.


The Seven Chinese Sisters

How courage, talent and teamwork help seven sisters save one another from being eaten by a hungry, red dragon.


Just saying it makes me happy. Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum! CHRYSANTHEMUM!!!


Bread and Jam for Frances

I love all the Frances books. They are so dear.





This story about an outdoorsy little girl and her seemingly delicate doll has a great twist….


Little Red Riding Hood


Choose your version, but what could be braver than a girl who stands up to a wolf?


Kate and the Beanstalk

“Fee Fi, Fo, Fum’un,/ I smell the blood of an Englishwoman!” A witty re-working of the traditional tale.

Princess Hyacinth

Starting with the fact that the little princess has brown hair and brown eyes, this is a different kind of princess tale…..Oh, and she floats.

What happens when the queen invites Emily’s bunny to tea?

Horace, Morris but Mostly Delores

Age 4+ What will three good friends do when faced with single-sex clubs? The answer is not at all spinachy and beautifully realistic.

McElderry Book of Greek Myths (read with caution—some are not gory!)

Age 4+ Greek Goddesses are a great counterbalance to princesses–they are full, complex characters with fun costumes, to boo

The Princess Knight

Pirate Girl

Princess Pigsty

Ages 4+ These books are all by Cornelia Funke and they are great. One quibble: I wish the princess in Princess Knight didn’t reject needlework and other traditional women’s crafts as unworthy of her. And, for those who are sensitive about such things, the princess knight’s mother dies in childbirth.


Zog is the keenest dragon in school. He’s also the most accident-prone. Luckily, a mysterious little girl always comes by and patches up his bumps and bruises. But will she be able to help him with his toughest test: capturing a princess?



Age 4+ This miller’s daughter is one brave Mama.

Hansel and Gretel

Ages 4+ Gretel saves the day–and big brother Hansel. Why isn’t this story on the top of everyone’s lists?


Ages 4+ What I love about the traditional Rapunzel is that she and the prince save each other–she has to save him before he can save her. And, by the way, she is not royal by blood–her parents are quite ordinary, except for the part about trading their baby for a bowl of lettuce.

The Snow Queen

4-infinity This is a Hans Christian Andersen classic. I haven’t read this version, but it looks good. I found the version we read to be  a little heavy on religious moralism, so ended up rewriting it myself because I loved it so much! Why not, right? Little Gerda is one of the great girl characters in literature.

Princess Furball

Ages 4+ This is a great “Cinderella” variant in which the girl is very active in her fate.

The Rough Faced Girl

Ages 4+ Another “Cinderella” variant, this one Native American.

The Wild Swans

Ages 4+ Another Andersen tale–there’s a Grimm’s version too–about a brave princess who saves her brothers who have been turned into swans. Sometimes gory (depends on the version) so pre-read.

The Glass Mountain

Age 4+ I love Wolkstein’s retelling of this classic: it puts the girl at the center of her own story.

The Fisherman and His Wife

4+ Not a bad one to revisit in this age of materialism….

Brave Irene

I love William Steig’s book about a girl who weathers a snowstorm to help her ailing mother.

Paper Bag Princess

4+  The classic alt-Princess book

The Princess and the Pizza

4+ Another one in which our heroine dumps the prince (for pizza!)


Age 4+ Paper Bag Princess gets all the press, but I actually like this latter-day feminist-tinged fairy tale better.

Miss Rumphius

Age 4+ Classic story of a real woman who travelled the world, then, as an artist, set out to make it a more beautiful place.

Ruby’s Wish

Ages 4+ Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a story about a girl who defies convention to achieve her dreams.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Ages 4+ This picture book version of the classic (Lucy and Susan are queens not princesses!!) preps them for the real thing.

The Princess and the Lord of the Knight

4+ Another wonderful latter-day fairy tale (brought to my attention by my daughter) that you can find in the library or used.

The Princess and the Pig

4+ There’s been a terrible mix-up in the nursery–the King and Queen are sure that a newborn piglet is their baby girl!

Olivia and the Fairy Princess

3+ Speaking of pigs, Olivia is having an identity crisis. When all the girls are princesses she no longer feels unique! A great exploration of true individuality. One of my favorite anti-princess princess books.

The Serpent Slayer

Ages 4-infinity. Wonderful, multi-cultural legends from around the world. Some are gory, so beware!

The Lady of Ten Thousand Names

Ages 4-infinity. Also a wonderful book of legends and tales from around the world. Here, too, proceed with caution among the littlest ones.

Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales

Ages 4-infinity. No Sleeping Beauties in Alison Lurie’s classic collection

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales 

100 stories from around the world, arranged geographically. Try learning a few and telling them  (rather than reading them) to your daughter!

Tatterhood and Other Tales

Ages 4+ another smart, strong girl-centered fairy tale collection.

Sitka Rose

Age 4+ Picture Paul Bunyan but female. And in Alaska.

Swamp Angel

Age 4+ Another tall tale, Bunyan-style, but this of a girl in Tennessee.

Brave Margaret

Age 4+ Robert Sans Souci’s wonderful story of an Irish lass who seeks her fortune, slays the dragon and saves the prince.

The Quiltmaker’s Gift

Age 4+ This beautifully-illustrated story of how a quilt maker schools a king is one of  Daisy’s favorites

Ruby the Copycat

Age 4+ Ruby has to learn to be herself

Katie Meets the Impressionists

Age 4+ Katie goes inside the great painters’ work. Don’t you wish you could?


Suki’s Kimono

4+ Suki wants to wear the kimono her grandmother bought on the first day of school–no matter what anyone says.

The Name Jar

4+ When Unhei moves to the U.S. from Korea no one can pronounce her name. Maybe she should just find a new one?

Strega Nona (and sequels)

Bonus points if you can read these wonderful stories in an Italian accent (mine comes out sounding like Dracula….)

The Recess Queen



A deft anti-bullying story with a satisfying conclusion.

Daisy began asking for this series at age 4 because a friend had them. I would not have guessed it. She liked to pretend to be Phoebe. For little ones, just read the story. You can add the endless (really, ENDLESS) detail as they get older. She is still reading them in second grade. I credit Ms. Frizzle (and Lawrence Hall of Science) with Daisy’s abiding love of science.

One Grain of Rice

Ages 5+ Daisy introduced me to this one…..Clever heroine, great folktale PLUS a math lesson? She knew I’d be all over it.

Not One Damsel in Distress

Ages 7-infinity. Jane Yolen’s book began as an “open letter” to her daughter and granddaughters. Again, some gore so read them yourself first and decide.

Brave Harriet

5+ The True story of the first woman to fly across the English Channel


I’m in Charge of Celebrations

Age 5+. Daisy loves this and says I should include it because it lets you invent your own holiday, which maybe can have a girl theme. I haven’t read it (she got it from the school library) but looks good.

Suggested by readers:

Ages 3+
Night Pirates
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave
Cinder Edna
Super Daisy (extra points for great title!!)
No Ordinary Olive

Ages 4+

Ladybug Girl
Blueberry Girl
My Name is Not Isabella

Violet the Pilot
The Red Wolf
Story of the Root Children 

Princess Smartypants


The Gardener




Beautiful Warrior, The Legend of the Nun’s Kung Fu

Fairy Houses

Falling for Rapunzel


There are so many fabulous Chapter Books for girls, where to start? Remember: even if girls aren’t old enough to read these, you can read TO them. Also, books on CD are GREAT for pre-readers.

Ramona the Pest (and all the Ramona books!)

Long live Ramona!! Kindergarten and up.


Magic Tree House

Age 4+ Daisy started reading about Annie & Jack when she was 4. As she grew, the books got more complicated. While they’re not great literature, we both learned a lot and Annie is formidable. We have read them ALL! 4-8 years old.


Wonder Woman: I Can Read

Age 4+ Great literature it ain’t. But it’s Wonder Woman and she can read it herself! The character is a good motivator for an emerging reader.


Nancy Drew and the Crew Clue

Age 6+ Daisy  also liked Cam Jansen, though not as well. And I’m still partial to Sally in the Encylopedia Brown books, though she is strictly secondary, sort of like Hermione in Harry Potter.

Pippi Longstocking (and its sequels)

Age 6+ And long live Pippi!

Ronia the Robber’s Daughter

Age 8+ Another Astrid Lindgren book. Recommended by a reader who says it’s better than Pippi! Could it be?


All-of-a-Kind Family

Age 6+ as a read-aloud. This classic series is like the Little House books only instead of Norwegians on the prairie, it’s Jews on the Lower East Side.


Mary Poppins (and its sequels)

Age 6 +as a read-aloud. P.L. Travers’ books are so much tarter than the Disney version (which, incidentally, she hated). Though, that said, I will always love the movie on its own merits.


Charlotte’s Web

Age 6 as a read-aloud. Need I even say this? I mean, please, the last line is: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon


Age 7+. All of Daisy’s friends are reading this.


Age 6+ Slight ambivalence here. I love Matilda. I love Roald Dahl. BUT he has that problem of equating ugly and/or fat with evil, pretty and/or thin with good. We read it, but we discuss those issues. Teachable moments…Sigh.



Age 6+ Another Roald Dahl story. Sophie is the most wonderful character, an 8-year-old who is kidnapped by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and who, with his help and the Queen of England’s, saves the world! Daisy also likes The Magic Finger, which features another omnipotent Dahl girl, but the story is a little peculiar….

Magician’s Nephew

Age 6 as a read-aloud Polly is a great character in this CS Lewis classic. There is tons of geeky-scholarly debate as to whether to read this first in the series (when it happened) or read it later, in the order published. I am agnostic.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

6+ as a read-aloud Susan and Lucy! Hooray! And they become QUEENS, not princesses. First grade and up.  There’s a picture book version, too.

A Little Princess

Age 7+ as a read-aloud. Sarah Crewe shows girls what it REALLY means to be a princess. In the best sense. The original book can be slow going for younger girls. Barnes & Noble has a very nice abridged versions in more modern language that makes a good read aloud. Same goes for Secret Garden, another longtime favorite. Both books have been made into decent movies, including the inimitable Shirley Temple version of A Little Princess. But I like to read books before watching films. That’s just me, though…

The Practical Princess

Age 7+ as a read-aloud Fairy tales for a new era–out of print, but you can  get it at the library.

Sarah Plain and Tall

Age 7+ as a read-aloud Didn’t you love it?

Nim’s Island

Age 7+ The movie is great, so we’re going to get the books. Sort of like My Side of the Mountain but for girls. And set at sea. With email. (FYI: Dead mother alert)

The Night Fairy

Age 7+ as a read-aloud What if a fairy lost her wings?

The Little House in the Big Woods

Age 7+. And long live Laura! One of the things I love about this first installment is it focuses on the traditional household work women did during the pioneer era. While reading the book, we made our own melt-and-pour soap, hand-sewed little pillows, began a finger knitting project and learned some other traditional crafts associated with women of the past.  Also, Laura (who never plays princess, by the way) has but one doll–a corncob wrapped in some cloth. Imagine that! A little anti-materialism and imagination never hurt anyone…

Frank L. Baum’s complete  Oz series

Age 7+ as a read-aloud. Not just The Wizard of Oz, but some of the others as well! It’s not all Judy Garland (though the movie, if your daughter can deal with the flying monkeys, is still one of the all-time best).

The Hundred Dresses

Age 7+ as a read-aloud. Eleanor Estes classic anti-bullying story from the 1940s still makes me cry each time I read it. Second grade and up.

Orchard Classics Shakespeare

Age 7+ Shakespeare had a way with women characters and Orchard has made them not only accessible but riveting to children. Great illustrations, timeless stories, it’s brilliant. We especially liked The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Thirteenth Princess

Age 7+ as a read-aloud. This retelling of “the Twelve Dancing Princesses” turns the 13th princess, who is a kitchen servant,  into the hero.


Ella Enchanted

Age 7+ as a read-aloud. I had mixed feelings, but Daisy loved this story of a girl who, on her birth, is given the “gift” of obedience.


Igraine the Brave

Age 7+ as a read-aloud More Cornelia Funke. Kids can listen to this on CD at about 4-5, or make it a read-aloud. Princess Igraine longs to be a squire; follow her journey as, with the help of talking books and a sorrowful knight she saves her parents (who have been turned into pigs!).

The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool

Age 8+ as a read-aloud, Another recommendation from Daisy. Satirizes fairy-tale conventions in a way kids can understand.

The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses 

Ages 8+ Again I have somewhat mixed feelings about this series. I’d like to see a series of great role-model type books about girls/women who WEREN’T princesses. Then again, if you’re talking about the history of governance, royal lineage was what gave women power. And I respect that the woman who wrote them was trying to combat her niece’s obsession with Disney Ps. I also don’t especially like the idea of “thinking girl” because it implicitly puts down other girls as not thinking and I don’t like that divisiveness. And it also indicates boys wouldn’t want to read about princesses or strong women. Uncool. All that said, it’s a fun, thoughtful, interesting series. (If you search for the term on Amazon, BTW, you get an ad for the Disney Princesses!!!). And check out,the same company’s series, “The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames.”


The Penderwicks

Age 8+ Four sisters and a new friend. Rollicking and funny! Plus the series (as it is becoming) is an overt homage to Edward Eager, Noel Streatfeld and Sydney Taylor (the author of the All-of-a-Kind books). Be still my heart! Second grade and up.


Skating Shoes
Theater Shoes
Ballet Shoes



Age 8+  These Noel Streatfield classics are back in Print. What’s fascinating about them is that they don’t treat performance as a vehicle to fame or fame as an inherent good.

The Ordinary Princess

Age 8+  godmother grants an unusual gift to a newborn princess.

Half Magic (and its sequels)

Age 8+ Edward Eager’s books about girls and boys on magic adventures never go out of style. They girls and the boys are all fabulous (occasional sexism or racial stereotyping so read through first and be ready to discuss).

The Goose Girl

Age 8+ Daisy and I have been listening to the audio version of this book, which beautifully fleshes out  the Grimm story about a princess who loses her crown and finds herself. Highly recommended.


The Sisters Grimm

 Age 8+ Sisters Sabrina and Daphne’s parents disappeared two years ago. Since then they’ve bounced among foster homes and now have been sent to live with a grandmother they never knew they had–Mrs. Grimm. And they find themselves in the middle of a mystery–and a family legacy–that makes real life look like a fairy tale. Second grade and up.

The Dear America Series

Age 8+ Fictional diaries of ordinary American girls in history.


Anne of Green Gables

Age 8+ as a read-aloud Again, maybe a little old for this grouping.

Little Women

See above. Remember: Beth dies (spoiler?) so your daughter has to be ready to handle that.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler

Age 9+ A classic. Again, probably a read aloud for kids in the early grades, but one of my all time favorites.

Harriet the Spy

Age 9+ See above (i.e., description of Mixed Up Files…) A reader also recommends a lesser-known book by the same author: Nobody’s Family is Going to Change

Because of Winn Dixie


Age 9+ Another read-aloud or read-alone for advanced readers. (see below for film version)

The Wrinkle In Time Series 

Age 9 or 10+  I love it so….

Suggested by readers:
The King’s Equal

Sisters in Strength: American Women Who Made a Difference (non-fiction)
Heroines of the American Revolution (non-fiction)
Boston Jane: An Adventure

The Wide Awake Princess

The Saddle Club
Island of the Aunts

Shakespeare’s Secret (9 and up)

Ivy & Bean
Clarice Bean
The True Meaning of Smekday

The Great Good Thing

Trailer Park Princesses

Handy Girls Can Fix It

A group of girls form a fix-it club to help friends and neighbors–and get themselves in (and out) of scrapes. Update of a 1984 book.

I mean it about boys–they need to read books and hear stories about adventurous, strong, competent, heroic girls and women too!

Let’s Hear it for the Girls
Once Upon a Heroine
Great Books for Girls
Amelia Bloomer List (not a book–a list on the web)
Outside the (Toy) Box (also a list on the web–of “non-sexist children’s books”)
A Mighty Girl (also a web list)

Kiki’s Delivery Service

My Neighbor Totoro

The Secret World of Arietty

Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind
Castle in the Sky
These movies by Hiyao Miyazaki are the best animation ever. You will love them as much as your daughter (or your son). I cannot say enough about them–plus the main characters just happen to be girls without having the least whiff of “girls can do it to” agenda. Totoro is suitable for the very youngest viewers.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie

Age 3+ Eliza has the mystical power to talk to animals which leads her on a funny, touching romp through England and Africa.

Lilo & Stitch

See? I don’t TOTALLY hate Disney….

Mulan II

Age 3+ Mulan is a great character with a great story. And there are no 21-piece Mulan mega-cosmetics kits to ruin it. Check out the song Like Other Girls from Mulan II. Listening to it (and watching the movie) led to some great discussions about princesses in our house!

Monsters, Inc

Age 3+ Although the story is really about the guy monsters, Boo is a terrific character. Daisy LOVED Boo when she was 3-4, slept with her Boo doll because Boo “looks like me, Mama.” She is sort of racially ambiguous and quite possibly hapa!

How To Train Your Dragon

Age 4+ Our favorite movie of 2010, hands down. Again, males are the main characters, but the ONE (sigh) female in the dragon-slaying class is a great one.

The Shrek Series

Age 4+ or maybe younger. Fiona may not be the main character, but she is a fabulous one (sensing a trend here???). This series (especially 1 & 2, though I loved the Princess parody in 3) was a Godsend to us during the princess years.

The classic Depression-era-themed feel-good movie still feels good. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the 1999 version, which is more faithful to the play. The adult actors include Kathy Bates, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth and, bless my soul, Andrea McArdle. But if you’re more into the 1982 version with Carol Burnett, that’s okay too.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Ages 5+ I wish the main character’s waist was a few pixels wider and that she was a little less Barbie-looking and the movie still fits the only 1 in three speaking characters is female formula, but it’s still a great story.

The Golden Compass

Ages 5+ A little bit Narnia, a little bit Lord of the Rings: the adventures of a young girl in a parallel universe

Ever After

This feminist spin on Cinderella, starring Drew Barrymore, was actually written by my dear friend and former roommate, Susannah Grant, who also penned Erin Brockovich and Pocahontas.  And The Soloist. And Charlotte’s Web. Oh, and speaking of Charlotte’s Web:

Charlotte’s Web

Yes, the book is better, but this is a pretty faithful rendering (or is it insensitive of me, in this case, to use the word “rendering?”).

The Incredibles

Age 5+ The female characters are secondary, but they are still wonderful…

Nim’s Island

Age 6+ Daisy hated this at three but adored it at seven.

Spy Kids

Age 6+ James Bond for the 5+ set. Only the girl is strong and smart instead of sexy….

Bridge to Terebithia

Age 7+ A beautiful story about fantasy, empathy and self-expression. Warnings: a child dies in the film. Also, it may be too scary for preschoolers.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Not for the little ones–maybe 8 or 9 on up?–but one of the great girl power movies of all time.

Because of Winn Dixie

A 10-year-old girl and her dog heal a town–and her troubled relationship with her dad. Age 9+

Ruby Bridges

A first grade girl makes Civil Rights history. Age 8+

Akeelah and the Bee

Against all odds, 11-year-old Akeelah makes it to the National Spelling Bee. Age 7+

The Secret of Roan Inish

John Sayles’ fantasy of a 10-year-old girl and a selkie. 9+. Maybe 8.

Fly Away Home

A 13-year-old girl adopts a flock of orphaned goslings and teaches them to migrate.

The Blog “Live From the Pink Wars” also makes the following suggestions via Progress on the Praire:

Chicken Run
The Corpse Bride
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Martha Speaks (available on itunes, or at

Age 3+ A dog eats alphabet soup and magically learns to talk.


Magic School Bus

Age 3+ Ms. Frizzle takes her class out of this world….


Age 4+ This excellent Saturday Morning cartoon was on for one year 1979-1980. Bring it back!

Word Girl (available on itunes, or at
Age 4+ A superhero who fights crime with her excellent vocabulary? What’s not to love?

 Avatar: Last Air Bender (available on Netflix etc)
Age 5+ A TV series that ran from 2005-2008 with sort of a pan-Asian theme. A group of friends must save the world by defeating the evil Fire Lord and Ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation. Daisy and her classmates–male and female–were OBSESSED with this.

Was She-Ra actually a great show or is that just my 1980s nostalgia speaking? I’m afraid to watch and find out, so let me know.

Sailor Moon

Japanese Anime about a girl who becomes a superhero. It’s a little odd (from an American perspective), mannered and high on the pretty/skinny scale but, well, it’s otherwise ok. At least I’ve decided it is. I may be wrong.

Lisa Ray who pens the blog “A Magical Year Without Disney” makes these suggestions for “turing off the Disney default.”


Power Puff Girls (available on netflix)
Stella and Sam 

Pigtail Pals
Cute aspirational, inspirational t-shirts for girls, infant on up!

Tootsa MacGinty
Seriously cute line from England for kids 0-5, their web site states: “The world is filled with colour…and we don’t intend to make that world smaller by putting our fearless adventurers into a sea of pinks and blues, clothes that look like they were meant for adults or slogans they can’t yet read!”

Handsome in Pink
Comfy and well-fitting t-shirts. And not all pink.

Truthful Tees
Daisy likes the one with the lemonade stand that says “Entrepreneur.” I like the bamboo that says “one.”

Tee Party from Shaping Youth
Our friends at Shaping Youth compiled their own list of great t-shirts for little girls. Some of the links no longer work, but lots do. Plus, you can find out all about the wonderful Shaping Youth site and blog!

Polarn O. Pyret (P.O.P.)
The most popular children’s clothing line in Sweden has made its US debut. Clothes are cute, functional and in addition to a “girl” line (which is way less frou-frou than anything you’d see here anyway, yet plenty cute with bright colors and fun patterns) there is a unisex line. With a manifesto  that will bring tears to your eyes.  Swedes. Gotta love ’em. Infants-Age 11. A little pricey, but great sales.

Idea: If you’re tired of pink for your little girl, have a party to dye for: get a bunch of cheap white cotton t-shirts, some washing-machine friendly dye and make a batch of shirts in whatever color you’d like. You can do a little tie dye or just dye them plain. Have your daughter help and she will have wearable art! The shirts can become her trademark, all the cooler since she made them herself….

Idea: Invest non-pink items with lots of fun, excitement and specialness. Van’s slip-on sneakers with flames on them, for instance, or color crayons can become another trademark, something that confers rather than flattens identity…..

Check out the Bindi Irwin line of dolls (here’s one)

The Lovely Lennon Sisters, of Lawrence Welk fame, have recreated the Best Pals  rag dolls of their youth and they are fabulous. I wrote a whole post about them on the blog. They even have multi-cultural lines, and a doll for boys.

Little ones 3+ are fascinated by Woodkins and there are lots  who look like regular girls (as well as the inevitable fairies and princesses)….Boys too!

Papo and Schleich both make great inexpensive little figurines—royal figures, fantasy and mythical figures, animals, Maid Marion, Joan of Arc, Pirates, Wild West…..And they aren’t being cross-marketed as clothing, room décor, breakfast cereal etc so it keeps play unscripted! For instance see, Enchantress or Schleich Sera.

Along with (or instead of) princess costumes try Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider Girl, etc. (they make action figures of these dolls as well, and some are even Barbies, though God knows what message a superhero with Barbie boobs sends….). Or Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz.

Greek Goddesses rock! Our Athena costume was homemade, but there are also this ready-made Athena costume and this goddess costume. Or walk like an Egyptian with Cleopatra

If you’ve got lots of money to burn (I don’t) or lots of kids and need durability (I don’t)  take a look at this costume company

Sarah’s Silks has flowing, multi-colored big silk squares that can be used imaginatively to make costumes of all kinds

I don’t know if this counts as being “for girls” or about femininity exactly but my college housemate, who was in the fashion industry, gave Daisy a stack of fabric remnants when she was around 3 or 4. They were each roughly  4×4″ and were all different weights, colors, patterns, textures. They have, quite possibly, been the most well-used “toy” of her childhood. She has found zillions of creative uses for them over the years and still plays with them all the time. I never would have guessed.

Discovery Toys has wonderful, bright-colored toys for both sexes. Their catalog and web site are gender-fair, showing both sexes playing with a range of non-color coded items.

Check out the new building toy, Roominate whose tag line is “because every young girl is an artist, architect, engineer and visionary!” It’s pricey, but worth it not only to encourage those all important building skills but to support young, female entrepreneurs and show the toy companies that we WANT THIS STUFF!

For a less expensive option, check out  Goldieblox books and engineering toys for girls 5-9.  Not on the market yet as of this writing, but you can pre-order.

Melissa Wardy, founder of has a fabulous page of toy shopping tips.

Dolls suggested by readers: Heart for Heart dolls; Dolls Like Me (some of them); Only Hearts Club dolls (some of them); Go! Go! Sports Girls dolls (athletes that are plush, like Groovy Girls)

American Girl-sized clothing and furniture on the cheap: Emily Rose and Silly Monkey

Michele Yulo, founder of  Princess Free Zone Inc. suggests having your daughter make up her own unique super hero. She can name it and create a costume with a mask of sorts and you can get some fabric and help her make a cape with glitter, glue, iron-on letters for the name…Check out her Super Tool Lula and friends, who have stories, activities, and a chapter book for girls 6-8. Lula (and Michele) encourage girls to get their own tool belts and tools  (play plastic ones or, if they’re older, real ones). Get one for yourself, too, and BUILD!


New Moon Magazine

The Daring Book for Girls
So many activities, so little time!

Here Comes Science (They Might Be Giants)

Classical Kids: Mr. Bach Comes to Call and Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery Song of the Unicorn
I adore this whole series of fictional stories that integrate composer, music and children. Performed by marvelous actors, too. These three, in addition to that, have fab girl characters! An absolute must, especially if your child is at all musical. They also have an ipad app, though I haven’t checked it out

Daisy’s two favorite “girl power” songs are the Dixie Chicks’ “The Long Way Around” and “Not Ready To Make Nice.” They are a little bit PG-13 (references to smoking, kissing ass etc) but so great I let that slide. Plus, they are both co-written by one of my dearest high school friends, Dan Wilson.

Here’s a fun cover of “I Am a Scientist” to watch:

A friend of mine recently needed to apply a coat of clear resin to the hull of a boat. Before he began, he pasted on  pictures of women and men, historical and contemporary, whom he admired. His kids asked about the pictures and, as they worked, he told their stories. Who floats your boat? You could do this on a wall, on a table, on a piece of cardboard…the possibilities are endless. Get some modge-podge, some magazines and snapshots and let your imagination set sail!

Physical activity and girliness: Girls want to do ballet in preschool. And that can be fine. But most of them won’t want to do it anymore once it gets “real”–and given the body image concerns about ballet, most of us don’t want our daughters pursuing it anyway (I don’t mean to put a knock on ballet, which I respect, or certainly any other form of dance, I’m just saying the world of ballet can be very tough. I’ve seen “Black Swan….”). Anyway, in addition to, or instead of, ballet how about kids’ yoga? It’s graceful, you can wear a leotard if you want, and it’s something that can actually be the building block of a lifelong healthy practice that promotes POSITIVE body image, confidence, competence and inner strength. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Check at your local studios for kids’ classes…We started out when Daisy was tiny with the books Babar’s Yoga for Elephants and Yoga Bear. There are also some good DVDs. for 3-6 year olds try YogaKids and YogaKids ABCs (we were less pleased with YogaKids Silly to Calm). We haven’t tried Storyland Yoga for 3-8 year olds, but for older kids (and their parents) we like Rodney Yee’s Family Yoga. And if anyone else knows other fun DVDs PLEASE let me know (for the list AND for myself!

Another suggestion: Martial arts. Probably more for 4 or 5+, I think, but Daisy took karate in kindergarten and adored it. Made her feel strong and great in her body, excellent for coordination and awareness. Plus she enjoyed the “dress up” aspect of wearing the gi (even went to Halloween one year as a “martial arts girl”). Why is she not in it any more you may ask? Long and tedious story. But it’s not for lack of interest…..

Someone just told me about Girls on the Run. I don’t really know anything about it, but it looks like a great confidence-building non-competitive athletic program for grade school girls.

Packaging Girlhood
Packaging Boyhood
Not only breaks down the marketing to kids, but offers some great ideas for media literacy conversations for children of all ages.

Odd Girl Out
The Curse of the Good Girl
Rachel Simmons’ classics are essential reading for parents of girls

Venus in Blue Jeans
Talking to your daughter about sex

I’m, Like, So Fat
She’s going to say it; here’s how to deal with it.

You’re Amazing: A No Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self
Inspired by  the Girls inc‘s The Supergirl Dilemma report, in which more than 1,000 girls shared their stories of feeling pressure to be perfect. For girls 9-12.

The Body Project
Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s book is one of my all-time favorites. It has had a huge influence in my thinking and writing about girls. She looks at the history of how girls came to define themselves more by the color of their lip gloss than the content of their characters….

So Sexy So Soon
More on the sexualization of childhood

Born to Buy
How preschoolers are turned into voracious consumers

Reality Bites Back
A look at the impact of reality TV on young viewers.

Little Girls Can Be Mean
Four steps to bully-proofing girls, starting in kindergarten

Girls Leadership Institute
Hardy Girls, Healthy Women
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
Shaping Youth
Powered By Girl
The Healthy Media for Youth Act
Girl Scouts Research Institute
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Girls, Inc.
Healthy Media Choices
Common Sense Media
Serious Play for Serious Girls
True Child’s “Cheat Sheet” on the  impact of the media’s gender stereotypes on kids–and how to combat them
The Alliance for Childhood

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