I am usually not the one to read or tell bedtime stories to my girls (that’s a duty my husband takes care of). Instead, I’m one of those moms who encourage them to read themselves. Somehow the book Good night stories for rebel girls manages to tick both the options for me. As much as I enjoyed reading it to my daughters, it is also a good and easy read for my kids as they can read simple English.
About the book
Authors Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo wanted to give young minds a collection of new age and real-life fairy tales where instead of a knight in shining armor saving the day, every girl is the hero of her own story. And they did this excellently through this book. The authors used crowdfunding for publishing the book, and they were successful in collecting some record-breaking funding making this book the most funded original book ever.
The book consists of 100 inspiring journeys of women from across the globe and narrates their stories of how they overcame all the obstacles that tried to stop them from achieving their dreams.
Although the book title says stories for rebel girls, I would highly encourage you to read it to your boys too. The stories might be about women, but are dealt with in very gender-neutral approach and builds a strong and positive image of women.
As for the language and readability, the book itself is very smooth and easy-to-read for a kid with basic knowledge of English to read by themselves with guidance. My 6 year old girls love to read by themselves though my husband or I have to explain the story sometimes.
Best of the book
Although I don’t completely agree with some of the stories from the book and the morals that they bear, most of the stories are worth reading to your little ones. Here are my top 10 favorites from the book that I found most inspirational and motivating to both me and my own rebel girls.
1. Ada Lovelace, mathematician
What makes this story one of my favorites is a girl celebrated for her brains and not her looks. Ada was one of the greatest mathematicians of her times and the first person to write a computer program or code in history of computers. We all know her famous husband Charles Babbage, who is well known as the “father of computers,” but very few of us actually know that it was Ada who inspired and helped Charles to invent computers. As a big math nerd myself growing up, this story always helps me in giving more examples to my kids of smart women who are famous for their brilliance in the field of mathematics and calculations and inspired lots of girls (like me) to study mathematics.
2. Amna Al Haddad, weightlifter
Her journey from being unfit and unhealthy to a professional weightlifter is inspiring and path breaking. She not only sets the right kind of body positive examples, but also breaks the stereotypes types that a girl needs to be lean and skinny to be healthy or beautiful. From an overweight girl to an athlete and weightlifter, her transformation truly shows that a girl can be strong and powerful if she wants to and no sport is too difficult, if she works hard for it. Coming from the UAE, she breaks further stereotypes and confirms the fact that sports and fitness know no limits.
3. Ann Makosinski, inventor
This story has inspired one of my twins to opt for experimental science in her school. Ann Makosinski invented the hollow flashlight, which does not need any kind of electricity or batteries, but instead runs on body heat. At the age of 15, she won first prize at the Google Science Fair for this invention, which she wishes to make available for free for those who can’t afford electricity. It not only imparts that one can use her abilities and talent for the betterment of people and society, but also that if we think hard and work hard, every problem has a solution, we just have to work it out and not give up.
4. The Bronte sisters, writers
It’s a story of 3 sisters who loved to write poems and stories, but in their times (mid-19th century), literature and writing were for men, and women were discouraged from engaging in writing and expressing their views, opinions, and feelings. These 3 sisters were rejected by many publishers and when finally, they published a book, it was not a success. But none of this discouraged them from pursuing their dreams and all 3 sisters later became renowned novelists and poets. With the help of this story you can encourage your child to learn the power of consistency and not giving up in times of failure and more importantly, not giving up on their dreams.
5. Helen Keller, activist
Helen Keller’s journey is something I grew up reading and I had to share it with my daughters. There is definitely a lot to learn from her. Being blind and deaf at a young age, Helen had great difficulty learning to speak and express herself. But she continued to work on it and grew to learn 5 languages and became a public speaker as well. What moved me as a kid was her courage to overcome every hurdle that came her way and her passion to continue to move forward despite every obstacle.
6. Lakshmi Bai, warrior queen
A warrior princess and Indian queen who was a well-trained sword fighter and archer, she not only was a great fighter, but also a kind-hearted queen. Lakshmi Bai encouraged every girl to learn self-defense and skills to fight, not to harm anyone, but to protect and fight for yourself and for those in need, and to fight for what is right. She built her own skilled army and when the British came to throw her out of her palace, she and her army fought back till their last breath, but did not surrender.
7. Malala Yousafzai, Activist
A brave young girl who stood up against the bad guys: that’s how I introduced Malala’s story to my daughters. Her story may send chills down anyone’s spine. Malala took 3 bullets in the head fighting for the right to education at the age of 15. Her act of bravery and standing up for what is right is instigating and inspirational.
8. Marie Curie, Scientist
She was the lady behind the discovery of radioactive substances and theories establishing them. Her journey of this discovery was not a smooth and easy one, but she was persistent and never stopped working on her studies. Experiments that she carried out on radioactive substances were challenging and dangerous, but this risk didn’t stop her from making path-breaking discoveries. She later on won a Nobel prize for her contribution in studies of radioactivity. Madam Curie has been a real motivation to lots of girls who wish to pursue science as their careers.
9. Rosa Parks, activist
A simple “No” can be so powerful. When 42 year old Rosa Parks said no and did not accept racist behavior, this simple and small act led to a nationwide boycott in the United States, which resulted in ending bus segregation. It shows how a seemingly small act of bravery and courage against injustice can bring big changes. It is easy to tolerate and complain about the situation, but what is actually needed is an effort to make it right.
10. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lawyer and justice
She worked throughout her career as a lawyer fighting against gender-bias and argued many landmark cases before the United States Supreme Court on gender equality and women’s rights. She was popularly called “notorious RBG” and was known for her dissent on every unfair argument and case in the court. She set an example that if you believe what you’re fighting for is right, go ahead and raise your voice against it without fear.
The concept of sharing real life stories of women who made it on their own and changing the idea how a princess or a girl comes out in a story is worth applauding and definitely worth the time reading about. I cannot complete the review without giving credits to the artists (all women from across the globe) who have done a commendable job bringing to life every heroic woman in Good night stories for rebel girls. Every time a girl stands up against societal norms that tries to keep them growing, she makes the path a little easier for every girl that follows.
- Good night stories for rebel girls 2: The success of the first book prompted the authors to produce a follow up with another 100 stories, proving that there are many girls and women who have inspiring achievements.
- Good night stories for rebel girls: 100 immigrant women who changed the world: Immigrants face special challenges toward achieving success. This follow-up book by Elena Favilli proves the obstacles they can face are not insurmountable.