The films featuring Disney Princesses are themselves based on different fairy and folktales, but the archetypes and story lines of these tales can also be seen in works of classic literature. Maybe you have heard of these books but never got around to reading them, maybe they have been sitting on your shelf without being opened, maybe you pretended to read them for class but just read a plot summary, maybe you skipped the book and only watched the movie. But here are some classic books you should give a chance based on your favorite Disney Princess.
If you love Snow White…
(Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)
You Should Read: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 1844
A story about an outcast noble person who survives an attempted murder and hides before returning to get what is rightfully theirs. In Snow White, the restoration of her crown involves a fateful kiss and a life with her Prince in his castle. For The Count of Monte Cristo, it involves an intricate plot of revenge years in the making.
If you love Cinderella…
(Disney’s Cinderella, 1950)
You Should Read: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, 1595
Fairies come to interlude in the love lives of mortals, leading to some magical mishaps and cases of mistaken identity. For Cinderella’s Prince, his men are sent all over the kingdom to see which maiden fits the glass slipper of the mysterious maiden who fled the ball. For the heroes of this Shakespearean play, a few doses of love potion lead to some comical mix-ups.
If you love Aurora…
(Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, 1959)
You Should Read: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 1878
A woman who is betrothed to another finds herself drawn to a handsome young stranger. For Sleeping Beauty, she does not know the handsome stranger she met in the woods is in fact the Prince to whom she has been betrothed to since childhood. But for Anna Karenina, the man who she finds herself falling for is most definitely not her husband.
If you love Ariel…
(Disney’s The Little Mermaid, 1989)
You Should Read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, 1938
A couple falls in love by the sea, but there is a seemingly magic spell on the eyes of the man involving the memory of another woman. For Ariel, it involves the magical interference of the sea witch Ursula. But for the unnamed heroine of the Daphne du Maurier novel, it involves the ever-present memory of her husband’s first wife.
If you love Belle…
(Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, 1991)
You Should Read: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, 1847
A book smart young girl makes her way to a castle full of secrets, falling for the master of the castle with a monstrous exterior. For Belle, the castle’s forbidden West Wing holds the secret of the prince cursed to live as a Beast, and the enchanted rose with its slowly falling petals. For Jane Eyre, the walls of Thornfeild Hall and its Master Mr. Rochester hold mysteries that include something or someone moving around at night.
If you love Jasmine…
(Disney’s Aladdin, 1992)
You Should Read: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
A young man with no prospects falls in love with a woman far beyond his standing, and makes himself a new identity to win her. For Aladdin, a chance encounter with a Geenie enables him to wish himself into a Prince, to woo Princess Jasmine who he met as a street rat. For Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire in the roaring twenties, all of his wild parties are an attempt to capture the attention of a girl he once knew long ago as a young soldier.
If you love Pocahontas…
(Disney’s Pocahontas, 1995)
You Should Read: Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1667
A great battle reveals the fall of mankind in its sin. For Pocahontas, the war between the settlers and members of the Powhatan tribe and the European settlers demonstrates inherent prejudice and violent tendencies on both sides. For the fallen children of God in the Garden of Eden and the angels cast into hell, their hubris and sin forever separated them from the love of God.
If you love Mulan…
(Disney’s Mulan, 1998)
You Should Read: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 1868
A young girl cuts her hair and rejects marriage to pursue a field dominated by men in a time of war. For Mulan, a failed meeting with the Matchmaker and a call to war for her father means cutting her hair and joining the Chinese army. For Jo March, it means selling her hair while her father is fighting in the civil war in order to make it as an author.
If you love Tiana…
(Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, 2009)
You Should Read: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960
A girl growing up in the American South learns strong lessons from her father, and also about prejudice. For Tiana, her father teaches her that good food has the ability to bring people together, and it is meant to be shared. For Jean Louise Finch AKA “Scout” her father Atticus teaches her about the world and what is right and wrong, famously saying “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
If you love Rapunzel…
(Disney’s Tangled, 2010)
You Should Read: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, 1860
Something magical and hidden maintains the youth and beauty of a nefarious but complex character, who can only be destroyed if the object itself is. For Rapunzel, it is her magic hair that glows when she sings, used by Mother Gothel. For Dorian Gray, it is a beautiful painting done of him at the height of his youth and beauty, that changes with age as he remains the same.
If you love Merida…
(Disney Pixar’s Brave, 2012)
You Should Read: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, 1847
A wild young woman with great spirit runs about the moors of her native land and rejects the ways of being a lady. For Merida, it involves riding across the Scottish countryside with her wild red hair flowing in the wind. For Cathy, it is running across the English moors with her beloved Heathcliff.
If you love Moana…
You Should Read: The Odyssey by Homer, 8th Century B.C.
A hero sets out on a long journey at sea, encountering many dangers, storms, and monsters along the way. For Moana, it is a journey across the sea with demigod Maui to restore the heart of the ocean to Te fiti. For Odysseus, it is an epic journey across the ocean to return home to his kingdom and wife.
If you love Anna & Elsa…
(Disney’s Frozen, 2013)
You Should Read: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 1811
Two sisters, one who believes in duty above self and one who believes love conquers all, deal with love and judgement of society. Elinor, like Elsa, is the older sister, practical and reserved who wants to protect her family. Marianne, like Anna, is the younger sister, open to love and life, who finds love with a man who betrays her trust.
Which of these pairings of Disney Princesses and literary classics is your favorite? Which of these books have you read- and what was your favorite? Let us know!