The Rebel Girls Phenomenon

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-damental Rights.

(by Claudia Morelli)

Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a collection of a hundred tales about (extra)ordinary women, which has become a publishing sensation. It is one of the most successful titles in the history of crowdfunding, it has sold millions of copies and it was translated into dozens of languages.

Since its early days in 2016, the project has continued to be enhanced by further collections, some biographical spin-offs, and a guided journal to help girls train their rebel spirits as well as numerous additional podcasts.

1. Origins

The books stem from Favilli and Cavallo’s frustration with the lack of female role models in children’s literature and movies, whose protagonists are generally men.

The authors understood the importance of telling the stories of some of the most powerful women in history to inspire children’s imagination and help humanity make progress.

For all these reasons, they decided to offer an alternative to the large plethora of fairytales in which girls pine for their princes. So… once upon a time, there were female scientists, judges, athletes, writers, musicians and politicians, all with remarkable stories and all linked by the aim of building a world where gender will not define how big you can dream.

This simple idea was the bedrock of the challenge of transforming children’s storytelling itself. However, how is it possible that few stories about famous women were so successful in a relatively short time?

2. Reasons for its success

First, it is crucial to understand that from its very beginning, the project was conceived as a platform to highlight the abilities and the skills of women. Indeed, the entire team consists of female professionals: the editors, the illustrators and – of course – the writers. They all took part in a project focused on female talent. The podcasts too (whose purpose is to provide extended narrative versions of key stories) are the result of the work of women. This aspect is a crucial metaphor that reminds us of the importance of empowering women’s voices.

Furthermore, the goal of every tale is to celebrate a particular trait of each woman. One of the main criteria in the selection process was diversity to include different protagonists coming from all over the world, and different ages – because there is not only one acceptable way of being a woman.

Moreover, Favilli and Cavallo understood that young readers were not exclusively interested in dragons and princesses, and therefore they decided to celebrate work as the magic power that could transform the world. Theirs is a non-fictional revolution!