If you spend any amount of time checking out parenting blogs on the Internet (which you obviously do—hi there, Reader!), you’ve probably heard about the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which came out at the end of 2016. The book is written by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, founders of Timbuktu Magazine, the first iPad magazine. In June of 2017, I heard about the opportunity to support the creation of a second volume via Kickstarter. I hadn’t read the first one yet because the book was pricey, it wasn’t available at the library, and I thought my daughter was too young to be part of the book’s target audience.
However, I decided that, at some point, she would be old enough to read the books and that, hearing so many wonderful things about the book, supporting the publisher and authors seemed like a great thing to do. I went ahead and contributed enough to get the two-volume set along with some other goodies. The books were delivered in November of 2017, but I was saving them for Christmas, so my family has just recently had the chance to really get into the books. Here’s our review!
Out of all the things my daughter got for Christmas, these books were her favorite. Not gonna lie: her father and I were pretty surprised, because she got other books featuring characters and stories that she was actually familiar with. When we left for a roadtrip the next day, she grabbed the first volume of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls for her bed time reading on the trip. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why.
If you’re not familiar with the books, each volume contains one hundred one-page “tales of extraordinary women.” Similar in style to She Persisted, which was published in 2017, each story is matched with a portrait of the story’s subject, along with a quote from her. The stories are brief—just a few paragraphs each—but they contain a little bit about each woman’s background and tell you what she did that was extraordinary. There’s a note in the front of the first volume that these are not mean to be an “encyclopedic account of events and accomplishments of their lives.” This isn’t a bad thing because the short stories are encouragement for your child to explore and learn more about women whose stories piqued their interest! And please don’t let the “Rebel Girls” thing fool you; these stories are great for all kids. The Rebel Girls Instagram account is full of pictures of people sharing the stories with all their children, regardless of gender.
The illustrations are as diverse as the women they portray, with the works of 50 female artists portrayed in Volume 1, and the works of 60 female artists portrayed in Volume 2. They’re all different, but are bold, colorful, and attractive—especially for young readers. (Speaking of young readers, I was worried about my daughter being too young for these books at five. I shouldn’t have been. If your child likes to listen to you read, these are fine books for any age, as you can take time to explain things to your child. Their understanding of the stories will grow and change as they do.)
So who’s in the books? Everyone from mathematicians to supermodels, warrior queens to athletes, ballerinas to tattoo artists, and TV personalities to astronauts. Some of the women featured include J.K. Rowling, Leymah Gbowee, Anne Bonny, Julia Child, Fadumo Dayib, Cleopatra, Girl Scouts Troup 6000, Maria Montessori, and Beyoncé. My daughter is partial to the ballerinas, of which there are several—including Merritt Moore, who is also a quantum physicist.
And remember how I said the books were pricey? They are totally worth it. I (sadly) judge books by their covers, and I was hooked as soon as I got my hands on these volumes. Gorgeous colors, heavy paper, ribbon bookmarks, attractive fonts and page layouts—definitely books that are created to last. They’re also FSC certified, and printed on chlorine-free paper with vegetable- and soy-based ink. Good for the mind, the heart, and the earth.
As I was writing this review, I found in the back of the book a blank page with the directions for your child to write their own life story. The opposing page is a place for them to draw their portrait. I cried when I found these pages. How amazing for your child to hear these stories about extraordinary women and then be encouraged to put themselves alongside those accomplished women. I can’t wait until we get to the end of the book so I can show my daughter!
I can’t say it strongly enough: If you don’t have these books, add them to your home library, like, yesterday. But don’t take my word for it—take my six-year-old’s! I interviewed her just for this review.
Me: What do you think about Rebel Girls?
Kid: (jumping up and down) It’s awesome!
Me: What do you like best about it?
Kid: That it is, um, hmm…That some of my Rebel Girls are in my She Persisted book. [This is true.]
Me: Okay. What else?
Kid: That…okay, I already said that. That it can tell you what some girls did, and it’s special to me. Because it was a gift from you and Dad and it has never, ever been a mistake for me. It’s been special to me all my life.
Me: Do you think other kids should get this book?
Me: How old should they be?
Kid: All ages.
Me: Why do you think other kids should get this book?
Kid: Because it tells stories that are true.
So there you have it. Go! Get the books! Share them with your family! Enjoy!