For weeks, my two youngest kids were treated to a variety of Cinderella versions. We discovered quite a few new favorites (and, admittedly, a few we didn’t care for). Read on to find the best Cinderella versions to read aloud!
24 Cinderella Versions
Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson
This is my favorite book in this list, so I’m putting it first. Cinderella and Cinder Edna live next door to teach other. Both girls are forced to work for their wicked stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella sits among the cinders, moping about her problems. Cinder Edna, on the other hand, uses her spare moments to learn exciting new things and earn money doing jobs for the neighbors.
Cinderella is beautiful; Cinder Edna is plain. While a fairy godmother helps Cinderella dress for the ball, Cinder Edna wears a simple dress and loafers. Cinderella rides a carriage to the ball; Cinder Edna takes the bus.
Cinderella marries the handsome, proud, and vain Prince Randolph. Cinder Edna marries his plain, clever, and kind brother Rupert. Can you guess who lives happily ever after?
Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying!, by Trisha Speed Shaskan
This is a funny book told from the perspective of the “wicked” stepmother. Apparently, Cinderella is a silly, scatterbrained girl who tells stories all day (and leaves the house covered in dust).
Cinderella tells so many stories that she loses her voice – so of course her stepmother must keep her home from the ball.
Older listeners will catch the humor better than preschoolers, and this book would be excellent for a study on point of view.
Cindy Ellen, by Susan Lowell
This is another Wild West version of the familiar story. Instead of going to a ball, Cindy Ellen goes to a rodeo, where she wins every event (and Joe, the rich rancher’s son, is so enchanted, he doesn’t even mind losing). When Cindy Ellen and Joe meet again at a square dance, Cindy leaves one of her diamond spurs behind. Of course Joe won’t rest until he founds its owner.
A clever and fun version – recommended!
Joe Cinders, by Marianne Mitchell
Joe Cinders has three mean stepbrothers (Butch, Buck, and Bart) who make him do all the work on the family ranch. When a mysterious man waves a stick and turns Joe’s rags into new cowboy clothes, things start to look up. The man changes his horse into a red pick-up truck, and Joe zooms to the fall fiesta, where he dances every dance with Rosalinda. When Joe leaves his red cowboy boot behind, Rosalinda won’t rest until she finds its owner.
One to read!
Chickerella, by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
This was just plain weird, and I was tempted to hide it from my three and five-year-old, who kept requesting it. They liked the chicken mannequin/collage artwork, but I just found it creepy. Combine weird illustrations with bad puns, and you have an eggstraordinarily disappointing book.
The Turkey Girl, by Penny Pollock
This Zuni version of Cinderella is unlike any other version I read because it doesn’t end happily ever after. The Turkey Girl is a poor young woman who herds turkeys for a living. One day a huge gobbler surprises her by speaking and promising that she shall go to a special dance. When the birds dress her in beautiful clothes and jewels, they insist that she return to them by sunset.
The Turkey Girl promises, but she has so much fun at the dance that she fails to return in time. In the end, she loses her turkey friends and (we presume) is alone forever.
I didn’t read this aloud to my kids; the illustrations are far from engaging, and the text is extremely hard to read since it’s often on a dark background.
Cinder-Elly, by Frances Minters
In clever rhyme, Minters tells the story of Cinder-Elly and her mean stepsisters, Sue and Nelly.
Instead of going to a ball, Elly goes to a basketball game. Instead of riding a coach, she rides on a bike (with glass sneakers). In the end, Elly goes on a date with Prince Charming, the star basketball player.
I really didn’t care for this modern New York City version, but my Three and Five requested it often.
Smoky Mountain Rose, by Alan Schroeder
I always love reading aloud a book with fun dialect, so the Appalachian style makes this one extra fun. Just to give you a taste …
“Now lis’en. Smack in the heart o’ the Smoky Mountains, there was this old trapper livin’ in a log cabin with his daughter. One night, while Rose was fryin’ a mess o’ fish, the trapper, he starts lookin’ dejected-like.”
Rose meets a rich feller (who “made his fortune in sowbellies and grits”) when he hosts a square dance.
My favorite page is the last one, which features an old couple sitting on a porch swing. “To this day, Rose and Seb are still livin’ there, and folks reckon they’re about the happiest two-some in all o’ Tarbelly Creek.”
The Persian Cinderella, by Shirley Climo
This version features Settareh, a beautiful young woman who catches the attention of the prince at the No Ruz festival. The story is well told, and illustrations are so beautiful that they almost look like photographs. The tale itself is very different from other versions; Settareh uses magic from a tiny glass bottle, and when her stepsisters get their hands on it they turn her into a turtledove.
Overall I found the story quite strange, and this wasn’t my favorite. But you may feel differently.
Fair, Brown & Trembling, by Jude Daly
In this Irish version, Trembling lives with her stepsisters, Fair and Brown. Instead of meeting the prince at a ball, Trembling makes her appearance in the back of church. The folk-style art gives the book an older feel. Because of that (and the fact that one woman cuts off a bit of her big toe to fit in the shoe … complete with dripping blood!), I do not recommend this book for your youngest listeners.
Cendrillon, by Robert D. San Souci
This version is told by a poor washerwoman from a Caribbean island. While I love the vivid paintings, neither my kids nor I enjoyed the story. However, the 5-star reviews on Amazon reveal that many people feel differently. It’s worth checking out.
The Orphan, by Anthony L. Manna
In this Greek version, the young girl gets gifts from Mother Nature (The Sun gave her brilliance, the Moon, beauty etc.). When the prince decides to attend the village church, the orphan must fix her stepsisters’ hair and dress them in lavish new gowns. However, Mother Nature’s gifts allow the orphan to make a radiant appearance at the church door.
There is no fairy godmother; instead, the orphan hears messages from her dead mother at her grave.
(Yeah, it’s weird.)
Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole
My three-year-old asked me to read him this silly version many times. Prince Cinders is a “small, spotty, scruffy, and skinny” prince with three big hair brothers.
When an accident-prone fairy falls down his chimney, she turns him into a big, hairy ape. When Princess Lovelypenny meets the ape, she’s terrified – but when the prince turns back into himself, she’s convinced he has rescued her.
A shy Prince Cinders runs away – leaving his trousers behind him. When the skinny Prince Cinders is the only man who fits the trousers, Princess Lovelypenny proposes immediately.
We like this goofy version of the classic.
Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella, by Tony Johnston
This is just an all-around great version that kids will love (as did my youngest three kids, ages 3, 5, and 7). Instead of the heroine being tiny and beautiful, Rrrrella is a big, smelly Bigfoot. She wins the prince’s heart when she’s the only Bigfoot strong enough to spin his log and dump him into the water. When she runs away, the prince is heartbroken. “Where my stinking beauty go?”
As it turns out, no one else’s foot is big enough to fit Rrrrella’s left-behind wooden clog, and the prince and his bride live happily ever after.
Twinderella, by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Did you know that Cinderella actually had a twin? Cinderella and Tinderella both complete the lengthy chore list given by their wicked stepmother, dividing their tasks right down the middle.
Their fairy godmother gets both girls ready for the ball, and when they arrive, the prince is entranced by both Cin and Tin. Thankfully, the fairy godmother makes a twin for the prince, and the girls have a double wedding.
The ending was a bit weird to me, but I love the clever rhyming text, the integrated math concepts, and the delightful illustrations.
Dinorella, by Pamela Duncan Edwards
This was by far my least favorite version. Normally I like Edwards’ alliterative stories (where many words begin with the same letter), but this letter d-themed book fell short.
The story idea (three dinosaurs living in a den) is cute, but there’s too much name-calling (dingbat, dumbhead, dummy, etc.)
When Duke Dudley hosts a party at the disco, Dinorella arrives and rescues the Duke from a deinonychus. The dinosaur sees only her glowing eyes and thinks she’s a demon. “A devil! See its dreadful demon eyes!”
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, by John Steptoe
This is an absolutely stunning picture book about two sisters who live with their father in Africa. One is kind and generous; the other is vain and cruel. When the young king searches for a wife, the sisters react in different ways. The king recognizes their true natures and chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen.
Cinderella Penguin, by Janet Perlman
The pictures in this book crack me up, but it’s also a great version of Cinderella told exceptionally well. My Three wasn’t interested at first, but as the book got going and he recognized the familiar fairy tale, he was hooked.
Plus, the blond wig on Cinderella – not to mention the picture of her stepsister trying to squeeze into a corset – are just hilarious.
The Rough-Face Girl, by Rafe Martin
This is one of those stunningly beautiful picture books that you just have to read. This version (from Algonquin Indian folklore) tells the story of a girl whose face and arms are scarred by the fire her stepsisters force her to tend.
All the young women want to marry The Invisible Being, because he is rich, powerful, and (supposedly) handsome. To marry him, a woman must prove that she has seen his face.
Though many women try to prove otherwise, only the Rough-Face girl has seen The Invisible Being. And when she finally meets him face to face, he looks past her scars and sees the beauty inside her.
I love this book, and my kindergartner loved it too.
Cinderella: The Untold Story, by Russel Shorto
This is a fantastic book for teaching point of view. When you read one side of the book, you read the familiar tale. Flip it upside down and start from the other side, and you have a completely different story! In the Untold Story, Cinderella is a pretty but excessively imaginative girl who lives with her kind father, stepmother and stepsisters. In the end, she marries the prince’s cousin, who also likes to tell stories that aren’t true.
Both stories are cleverly told, and the illustrations are wonderful.
Cinderella: The Dog and Her Little Glass Slipper, by Diane Goode
The pictures in this book are a little weird (dogs dressed in old European clothing, complete with wigs, and walking on two feet). But my daughter enjoyed the humor in the illustrations, and the story is well-told without being too wordy.
The Golden Sandal, by Rebecca Hickox
In this middle eastern tale, beautiful Maha works day and night for her cruel stepmother and stepsister. When Maha spares a little red fish from becoming the family’s dinner, it promises to help her whenever she needs it.
True to the culture of the time, Maha marries Tariq without ever having met him (his mother decides whom he will marry).
My daughter requested this one more than I’d have thought, I suspect because of Will Hillenbrand’s beautiful illustrations.
Adelita, by Tomie DePaola
Adelita is a young Mexican woman who lives with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. The bright spot in her life is Esperanza, the kind old woman who had cared for her father when he was a baby. Esperanza helps Adelita reunite with a young man she had known as a child, and the two (of course) marry and live happily ever after.
Cinderella, by Marcia Brown
You may have a hard time convincing your young listeners to sit for this one, because this vintage (1954) version’s illustrations won’t grab today’s kids. But please do give it a try. Even though the story is familiar, Brown’s storytelling is wonderful!
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Try Fanny’s Dream. It is one of my favorite retellings of the story because of the ending.
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Thank you for the suggestion, Michelle!
You should try Splinters by Kevin Sylvester. It is a great sport book that is a Cinderella in the hockey world. A number of years ago it was part of the Forest of Reading that Ontario Libraries run.
Thanks for that recommendation, Mindy!
There are also the Egyptian Cinderella and the Korean Cinderella, both are beautiful stories!
Thank you, Peppy! I did read the Egyptian Cinderella and felt uncomfortable with it because the only good character had light, fair skin, while all the bad characters had dark skin. For that reason I didn’t feel I could promote it. I will have to look into the Korean version!
“Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” has long been a favorite of mine. I’m looking forward to checking out some versions that I’m not familiar with – and I appreciate knowing which ones to avoid. One that wasn’t on your list was Jan Brett’s chicken version with a gorgeous Russian setting.
Thanks for that recommendation! 🙂