Historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” The further we advance toward eradicating inequality between men and women, the more we notice areas where we need to improve. From the television shows we watch to the books we read and even to prominent job fields, most women grew up with a short supply of female role models.
Fast forward to December of 2016 when Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Eleni Favilli and Francesca Cavallo was published. The book, which recently published its second volume, is packed with 100 stories about the lives of 100 influential women who have made extraordinary and lasting impacts on the world.
Favilli and Cavallo have had other successful business ventures before Rebel Girls. This includes Timbuktu Magazine, the first iPad magazine for children, they created 12 mobile apps, published six books and built a toolkit that allows underserved communities to design and build play spaces.
In the About section on the Rebel Girls website, they collectively state, “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.”
The authors weren’t the only ones who thought we needed these stories. The series became the most funded books in crowd funding history. Speculatively thinking, the impact this book series could have on the current generation of young girls is incalculable.
Reading to children from a young age has proven to have a long lasting impact on a child’s life. The Melbourne Institute for Applied Economic and Social Research, funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood development, conducted a study and found that “Reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to.” Furthermore, the study concluded there is a “direct causal effect from reading to children at a young age and their future schooling outcomes regardless of parental income, education level or cultural background.”
Interestingly, there was a slight difference in the results for girls and boys. According to the same study, “The data shows that girls do slightly better than boys, independent of the frequency that they are being read to.”
Another large impact this series will theoretically have is on self esteem.Reading to a child from a young age will actually boost that child’s self esteem. It builds vocabulary skills which that child can then use to communicate effectively. According to education provider Gemm Learning, “… the more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better.”
Examining the clear causal relationship between reading and self esteem, one can theorize that a series- which not only encourages parents to read to their children, but also gives girls positive role models to look up to, will only further boost the level of self-worth and academic advancements of the next generation of kids. This is definitely “her-story” in the making.