To celebrate Book Week 2017, I’ve asked bloggers to share a book that one of more of their children adores. Kate from The Online Watercooler shares why Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is so important to her family.
The Christmas before my daughters’ 4th birthday I began to notice something. Among the myriad
opportunities to see, speak to or sit on a kindly old man in a red suit there was a startling
inconsistency in the way on which my children were greeted by strangers. My son always got a
‘high five’ and a ‘hi there buddy!’ and my daughter always got a kindly smile and a ‘wow, aren’t you
Well, yes, I wanted to respond. She is beautiful (like every other girl), and her is brother too. But
that’s just about the least interesting thing about her, and is that really the first thing we notice in
girls? Their looks? Her brother was a champ, a mate, a buddy – and she looked very pretty in her
Christmas dress. Is that really the first thing we want girls to hear – that we value their appearance
and their brothers’ mateship? These are the messages she gets every single day. Not just at
Christmas, but in toy stores, in clothing departments, watching television, seeing billboard ads…If it
was one message once in a while, we could shake it off. As it stands, it ubiquitous. Its everything
girls are taught to value from every angle – how is a parent to counteract this?
I know how capable my daughter is and so I made it my mission to make sure she knows it; that
what she thinks, knows, can accomplish and can contribute is monumentally more interesting and
important than anything about her appearance. It is a daily struggle. With every ‘doesn’t your hair
look pretty?’ I need to work that little bit harder to remind her that her wonderfully creative brain
and her kind, kind heart are even more significant.
Enter Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Journalist Elena Favilli and an artist/actor Francesca
Cavalli, noticed the same thing as I had, and they decided to do something concrete about it. On
the Rebel girls website, Francesca explains:
“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 goals. 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.”
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is the result and it is one of the small ways that I proactively
engage my daughter in discovering what’s most important. From Cleopatra to Jessica Watson, the
Mirabal sisters and Hillary Clinton, this book is armed with amazing stories of bravery, brilliance
and ingenuity. Teenage inventors, warrior queens, fearless pirates and brilliant scientists are the
tales we tell every night before bed – and it just so happens that the heroes in each tale are
women. A year and a half later we have read each one more than once. Its’ become a family ritual
(right before Harry Potter time) to read a couple of tales of some of the most fascinating people you
may never have heard of. In fact, my son loves the stories as much as my daughter.
We’ve since invested in age appropriate biographies of Marie Curie and Freida Kahlo, and this
year’s Christmas list already has a request for Amelia Earhart’s life story in print. Goodnight Stories
for Rebel Girls is beautifully written and illustrated, with a page long story for each heroine. While I
remind my daughter, and my son, each day of the things that make them special, its stories like
these that bring the message home. As an added bonus, these women have inspired both my
children in ways I did not predict.
There are no easy answers being a parent. There are so many voices, so much opportunity for
judgement and so few chances for positive feedback: you really only find out when you’ve gotten it
wrong. This is one way I can proactively encourage what really matters in my daughter, before the
Kim Kardashians of the world send her an entirely different message of what beauty means.