Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls details the real-life stories of 100 extraordinary women. Stories from different countries, cultures, religions and industries but all-powerful in their own right. The aim of the book is to tell female stories from a female perspective and to empower the next generation of “rebel girls”.
The book opens with “To the rebel girls of the world:
- Dream bigger
- Aim higher
- Fight harder
- And, when in doubt, remember
- You are right.”
This theme is carried out throughout the book – telling stories about strong female leaders and role models. Role models like Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist who was not only the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate but also initiated the creation green belt in Africa. She did this by encouraging local women to grow seedlings and plant them in their backyards. While it started with just a few women it soon became a cross-national movement, and between 1977 and the present they planted more than 40 million trees.
Irena Sendlerowa saved the lives of 2500 Jewish children during World War II. She smuggled them out of Nazi Germany in bags of laundry, boxes and even coffins, giving them a pseudonym and placing them in Christian families. Irena buried these records in her backyard and after the war, she reunited many of these families.
Reading these stories, I realised that my childhood was filled with princesses and damsels in distress rather than adventurers, innovators and pirates and that there is still a gap in the way we tell stories today. So how do we close this gap now and create an environment that encourages female creativity and leadership? We start with books like this, books that will give girls and women role models they can relate to.
I believe that Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo have achieved just that, by telling the stories of female artists, scientists, rappers and surfers. Each story is accompanied by a beautifully illustrated portrait illustrated by various female artists, making this a great coffee table book and a necessary addition to a child’s bookshelf.
One reviewer claimed that this is “the feminist bedtime story book you’ll wish you had growing up” and I couldn’t agree more – who needs fairy tales when you have real-life heroines?