Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
“We didn’t want to give children the usual fairy tales.”
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is not a typical book of fairy tales. All these stories are true. Authors Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo say they’re true stories, about real women around the world, who accomplished amazing things.
The authors got their idea for the book after hearing actor Gina Davis speak about gender inequality in children’s media. Davis said her institute, The Gina Davis Institute on Gender in Media, commissioned the largest body of research ever done on gender in film and television, covering a 20-year-span, and the results were stunning. Davis discovered there were far fewer female characters in children’s media. One female to every three males and that the females she did find were not very realistic.
“Often the female characters waist is so tiny that you have to wonder could you fit a spinal column in there. And the most one of the most common occupations for female characters in g rated movies was royalty which is a nice gig if you can get it.”
When Favilli and Cavallo heard these statistics. They decided to do something about it. They wrote Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the lives of 100 extraordinary women from the past and present illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.
Stories about Queen Elizabeth Serena Williams Eva Peron and the first female African-American astronaut Mae Jemison just to name a few. The stories include women from modern day history and from the ancient past.
Favilli says there is one story that she particularly loves, about the first female pharaoh. “Her name was Hatshepsut, and she was a very successful leader. But after her death they tried to destroy her memory. Her statues were smashed and every living memory of her reign and over her life was basically destroyed because they everyone was scared that other women could then based on her example tried to seek power.”
Favilli says this is symbolic of the stories they try to capture and the women they write about. Women who might be lost to history, or overlooked in faraway countries.
Francesca Cavallo says her favorite story is one about a group of more modern-day women. The Black Mambas. “They’re a group of female rangers that have revolutionized the way they patrol national parks in South Africa.”
The 26 member group of all women in South Africa patrol nature preserves and protect endangered animals by working together and collaborating. A concept Cavallo says shatters the typical female stereotype in most stories usually in traditional fairy tales.
“Women in traditional fairy tales are rivals, and they can’t stand each other. They try to kill each other. Instead, in our books, women collaborate and do all sorts of incredible things. That’s one of the aspects of our books that I’m most proud of.”
According to Elena Favilli, there’s one thing that all the women in their book have in common. Perseverance.
“Perseverance was something that all these women had to nurture and stick to, because it wasn’t easy for any of them. No matter how smart they were, or how passionate they were, nothing came easy. They had to struggle and fight to see their talent recognized, to see their discoveries recognized.”
Besides the books, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has a podcast that features a new rebel girl every week.