Sign up now to take our TODAY Food baking class with Gesine Bullock-Prado!

Parents

7-year-old publishes book inspiring girls of color to be princesses

Princesses can come in any color, and a 7-year-old's inspiring book proves it.

Like many dads, Morgan Taylor's father, Todd, dubbed his daughter his princess, but one day she told him that his beloved pet name for her made her sad.

“I love it when you call me a princess but I know I am not really a real one,” she told TODAY Parents about that conversation. “Real princesses were vanilla and I can’t really be a princess.”

Courtesy Artiisan Photography
7-year-old Morgan Taylor wrote "Daddy's Little Princess" with dad, Todd, to change how people viewed princesses and encourage girls of color to "rock their crowns."

Taylor felt stunned. He thought that by introducing Morgan to “The Princess and the Frog," starring Princess Tiana, she’d see that black girls could be princesses, too. But then Morgan brought up something Taylor never considered.

RELATED: Comic book 'Raising Dion' takes on superhero diversity for women and minorities

"For most of the movie, Princess Tiana’s a frog,” Morgan said. “(The movie is) trying to encourage me to be a princess and it is kind of like you are telling me I am a frog.”

Courtesy Delayna Robbins
7-year-old Morgan Taylor used her own life experiences to write a book introducing children to princesses and queens of color. She hopes the book inspires children of color to embrace who they are.

Taylor hadn’t realized that his daughter had absorbed a negative message from the film.

“I received the biggest wake-up call,” he said.

Courtesy Delayna Robbins
Princess Sarah Culberson of the Mende Tribe in Bumpe Sierra Leone was adopted and didn't learn she was royalty until she was an adult. She founded and runs the Kposowa Foundation, which helps people in Sierra Leone.

Hoping to remedy that, he and Morgan started researching princesses and queens of color and found dozens with unique and powerful stories. This gave them an idea — what if they wrote a book, telling their story, while introducing readers to real-life princesses and queens of color?

RELATED: Modern moms say strong girls love princesses, too

“So much of Africa and our culture is patrilineal,” Taylor said. But the book, "Daddy's Little Princess," gave them a chance to learn about African women who ruled while showing children that princesses don't simply look "vanilla."

The story follows a young girl named Morgan who doesn’t think she can be a princess because she’s black, but then meets the different princesses and queens of color. As soon as Morgan started writing, the story came naturally.

“Everything pretty much flowed. I got to pick out the pictures and everything,” she said.

Courtesy Delayna Robbins
One of Morgan Taylor's favorite princesses was Princess Elizabeth. Morgan's middle name is Elizabeth and she wants to be a model when she grows up, just like the princess, who also was the Ugandan ambassador to the United States.

While Morgan enjoyed learning about all the princesses, she has a few favorites: like Princess Elizabeth of Toro, who was a model and the Ugandan ambassador to the United States. Morgan also likes King Peggy from Ghana because of her unlikely story. While born in Ghana, Peggy lived in United States and worked at the embassy. One day, officials from her village showed up and informed her she was its king. Peggy balked at the idea; she wanted to be queen. But it turns out there’s no word for queen in their language, so she agreed.

The response to the book has been overwhelmingly positive, Taylor said.

Courtesy Artiisan Photography
Morgan Taylor used her book to introduce children to princesses and queens of color, like Queen Nzinga, a 17th century queen of the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms in Angola. While she displayed keen diplomatic skills, she also excelled at military tactics.

“I think it is important that we express to parents how important it is that we have a diverse imagery of princesses of all races. I think it is sad that any child thinks you cannot be a princess because of the color of their skin,” Taylor says.

As for Morgan, she hopes readers take away a simple message.

Never miss a parenting story with TODAY’s newsletters! Sign up here

“I want you to know that you have a crown, and I want you to rock it.”

Courtesy Delayna Robbins
Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland runs a foundation and advocates for the safety of girls and young women in her country.
TOP