“Mum, why is there not such a book for boys? All these women and girls are so cool!” this is what my then seven-year-old son asked me after a reading session from “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”.
It’s a great question and I am sure the authors of this book, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, would be more than happy about it.
“I couldn’t love a man who commands me, any more than I could love one who lets himself be commanded by me!” those words are from one of these heroic women. Jacquotte Delahaye, a Haitian Pirate with long flaming red hair, said them.
Her most likely very adventurous life was only 20 years short (ca 1640-1660) but still, she was the boss of more than hundreds of pirates and together with her friend Anne Dieu-le-Veut, they were two of the most feared pirates of the Caribbean. A right woman for my son, no wonder, her story was his favourite in the book…
But what made Favilli and Cavallo write “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” with 100 stories about 100 women who each changed the world – some with great, some with small impact?
“Because we are girls. Our entrepreneurial journey made us understand how important it is for girls to grow up surrounded by female role models. It helps them to be more confident and set bigger goal”, they say on their website. “We realized that 95% of the books and TV shows we grew up with, lacked girls in prominent positions. We did some research and discovered that this didn’t change much over the past 20 years, so we decided to do something about it.”
A study from 2011 in Florida showed that 100% of the 5618 children books, published between 1900 and 2000 in the United States of America, had male characters, but only 33% of the books featured female characters. If that was not enough harm: more than 80% of the male characters would have job, but less than 20% (!!!) of the women of the studied books went to work. They’d rather be a princess and wait for the prince to come and help/kiss/carry them somewhere…
Does this make you angry or sad? It does do that to me. I am a fulltime mum, I can’t pay for daycare because I am not eligible for the child-care-benefit (wrong visa). My husband is a lousy cook, that’s why I make dinner daily – so for my son, the rules are clear: Dad works, Mum cooks. He doesn’t know what a hard-working career woman I once was.
When we started reading the book, he first thought it was gonna be boring. But there were no princess stories – every single one-paged-chapter had a strong female character and a strongly motivating story to tell. My son did not want to stop reading and he was truly sad when we finished it.
Each story was inspiring, was it this little girl Grace who wanted to know how alarm clocks work and ended up being a professor of maths and physics years later, or an African-American Ballerina who once, while being on stage, broke her legs multiple times but managed to come back, or the activist Wangari from Kenya who started the Green Belt Movement and managed to turn a dry patch of land into a sea of trees.
By the way: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was so successful, you can now pre-order online the second book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2” on https://www.rebelgirls.co
Ragna is a full-time mum and therefore pretty busy raising her two beautiful kids. But in her earlier life, she was a journalist. The German immigrant loves to write so she is super happy to contribute to Sydneymum and hopes to become more confident in her second language.
When she has some time off you will usually find her in the water – giving surfing lessons with Letsgosurfing on the weekend or surfing on her own. Thanks to the wonderful group of the Surfing Mums (www.surfingmums.com), an Australia wide not-for-profit association, she can even get wet when her husband is at work! Ragna is one of the coordinators of the Surfing Mums, Maroubra.