Each morning I awake to the slow and steady clickety-clack of a particular purple pair of plastic slippers, worn by a wobbling 4-year-old with the cutest bedhead I’ve ever seen. She’s wearing a dress of some sort, it varies between the princess dress she chose as her award for pooping on the potty last year and a variety of old dress-up clothes from my own childhood toy box.
We are in the thick of tulle, all things pink, and magic wands. And I get it. I loved those plastic high heel shoes and remember feeling so glamorous the moment I slipped on any dress that went past my knees. And who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Stories of overcoming obstacles and happily ever after. But while I wish I could look her in the eye and promise that all things truly will be happily ever after, my job as her mama is to cultivate a strong and confident young woman so that when life’s battles arrive, she is able to confront them.
My husband and I make sure to praise things other than her outward appearance — “I love the way you make people laugh,” “Your singing voice is so pretty,” “It makes me so happy to see you create…” But sometimes it feels like the inevitable cultural megaphone is already screaming in her ear: this is beauty and these are the things that a girl can and cannot do.
We’ve come across a handful of wonderful resources encouraging girls in a variety of ventures like math, science, and medicine, but most are meant for ages 8 and up. There’s a deep hole in the content that exists for one of the most impressionable times of our daughter’s life. So I was thrilled to come across a crowd-funded campaign for a book titled Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by the creative ladies at Timbuktu Labs.
When I initially watched the Kickstarter promo video I teared up within the first 15 seconds. It’s not an overly emotional video, but the prospect of having a beautifully designed book about real women who my daughter could look up to, felt like someone gave me a big hug and said, “Let me help, I believe in your little one, too.”
The first project for Co-Founders Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo was Timbuktu Magazine. While between tours with her theater company, Francesca was teaching acting classes for children. Inspired by Elena’s collection of picture books, the two created a well-designed iPad magazine for kids. Since then they’ve been committed to creating beautifully designed products that encourage smart play among kids. Their most recent project, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, began in hopes to provide young girls with strong role models.
100 brave, creative, smart, and lovely women. Their stories told like a fairy tale and each one accompanied by a lovely portrait illustration. And the best part? After reading these inspiring tales to your little one, you get to lean over and say, “That was a true story!” In a society where comparison and competition are so prevalent, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is truly a collaborative project between creative artists, writers, and designers in celebration of strong women.
The Timbuktu gals have seen a wildly successful response to their campaign and did an excellent job presenting all the information in such a transparent and exciting way. How does one go about choosing just 100 women to feature? Elena and Francesca chose ladies of the past and present, in a variety of fields and from every corner of the globe, giving voices to countries that are often underrepresented in the media. They also included women who had interesting (and sometimes even difficult) childhood experiences. Frida Kahlo, for example, got polio when she was 6 and when she was 18 had a terrible accident that left her bedridden for months. She began to paint during her recovery while in bed. Another great story that the ladies hope to feature is that of Yusra Mardini, the Syrian swimmer who dragged her sinking boat to the Greek shore and is now training for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
And when asked if they had any plans to create a similar book for boys, Francesca said they’ve had several moms buy the book for their sons. “This book is absolutely for boys, too! It’s extremely important that boys become familiar, at a very early age, with female characters who are strong, smart, flawed, emotionally complex, and able to fight their own battles.” So consider funding the project for your own little girl, your niece, your granddaughter, your son, or yourself! The ladies reached their $400k goal early this week and are promoting a “surprise stretch goal” to be revealed should they raise $500k before the deadline on May 25th.More On