This Book Series Is Inspiring Girls To Be Rebels & Badasses Instead Of Princesses Or Beauty Queens


By now you are probably familiar with our view on the Disney Princess phenomenon. With multiple articles posted on our site about how the notion of aspiring to marriage and waiting for a “prince charming” to save you (from what, exactly?!) and give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of (‘coz why would you want to work at creating your own dreams?). We’re not saying it’s wrong to get married or fall in love, but when that becomes the paramount aspiration pushed on girls from a young age, society misses out on the potential of what half the population can offer to the world.

On our platform we always get excited to see the everyday people who are taking on the challenge of creating initiatives and opportunities to undo some of the damage left behind by industries which have been successful at convincing women to stay in their lane.

We need a revolution in the media, in entertainment, in fashion, in schools, as well as literature. One woman who is leaving nothing on the table when it comes to teaching girls about badass female role models they can aspire to be like is Elena Favilli. She is the CEO of Timbuktu Labs, a children’s media innovative lab based out of Los Angeles.

She is also the co-creator of a new book series titled ‘Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls’ which is a collection of 100 stories featuring real life women throughout history who have changed the world and are transforming the notion of what it means to be a “rebel”.

In a press release promoting the launch of the project, Elena calls this book series the “new” version of a fairy tale, and her plan is to get it on the nightstand of every girl. Instead of the stereotypical damsel in distress trope, girls will get to read about people like Elizabeth I and Serena Williams, women who defied the odds and did not live life within the boundaries. Stories featuring painters, dancers, astronauts, writers, pharoahs and political leaders will inspire girls to explore, dream, and live their life without limits.

“As female entrepreneurs, we’ve often wished we had grown up surrounded by more female role models. We constantly urge ourselves to ‘lean in’ and books on female empowerment proliferate on our shelves… but they come far too late. Research shows that by the time girls reach middle school, they already have less confidence in themselves than boys. That is why changing the narrative early on is so important,” said Elena.

Elena and her co-founder Francesca Cavallo launched a Kickstarter campaign today to promote this series and raise money to print books in time for a Christmas 2016 release. Since this is an issue we love to talk about, we pulled Elena aside from her busy schedule to get her expert take on why encouraging girls to be rebels and badasses, instead of aspiring to be beauty queens and Disney princesses, is a battle worth fighting for.

Elena Favilli (left) and Francesca Cavallo (right)
Elena Favilli (left) and Francesca Cavallo (right)

What was the turning point in your life and career that made you develop the ‘Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls’ series?

Last year I wrote an op-ed for The Guardian talking about my personal experience as a female founder of a tech startup in Silicon Valley. I simply shared the many sexist situations in which I had found myself, and how you’re supposed to not complain about them if you want to be considered successful. Soon after the article was published, I received a death threat via Twitter.

Then many other abusive comments came through the comment section of the article itself (some are still there, unfortunately). Apparently it’s a very common pattern. The Guardian just published the results of a research into the 70M comments left on its website since 2006. Of the 10 most abused writers, 8 are women. I decided that my next project would be something designed to empower young women.


You have mentioned in a press release that the current movement of female empowerment has come “too late”, what do you mean by this and how is this tied into your series?

Don’t get me wrong. I love books about female empowerment and I’m an avid reader of them! I’m just saying that we need to change the narrative around women much earlier, starting with children. Because research shows that kids begin to notice gender differences in preschool. And between three and five, the consciousness of gender transforms into solidified opinions, informed by the culture around them. That’s why we need to pay way more attention to the toys and books we create and we buy for our kids.

Geena Davis has become an outspoken advocate for destroying gender bias in kids entertainment, and you and your co-founder are on a mission to do the same in literature. Why do you think gender bias still exists so widely?

Because it is deeply rooted in the structure of our society. That’s why it’s so difficult to even talk about it. Talking about gender means talking about changing the status quo; and changing the status quo makes everyone immediately uncomfortable.


What defines a “rebel girl?”

Oh, many things… but above all I would say a girl who breaks things to make things!

If a parent were to ask why the princess imagery is so damaging to girls, how would you answer, and encourage them to read your books to their children instead?

Princesses typically need a prince, a brother or a hunter to be saved. They’re never in charge of their own destiny. So they send a very demeaning message to young girls. That’s why parents should read Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls to their daughters. Our stories show examples of real women who achieved extraordinary results in every field imaginable. They are a tremendous source of inspiration because they encourage young girls to explore, learn and dream without limits.

What do you hope will be the collective impact on girls as they grow up reading a “rebel” book?

I hope that the next generation of girls will grow up more confident in their own abilities and will be able to always stay true to themselves and choose what they want to be without feeling guilty about it.


The female empowerment movement and social media-driven feminism is really trying to shift the idea that women should aspire to marriage and that their worth comes from what they look like. Why do you think this it is important to dismantle these limiting notions?

Marriage still is one of the most powerful institutions to exercise control over women. And unfortunately in many countries young women are still forced to get married. So it is imperative that we teach our girls that marriage should always be a free choice. It sounds obvious when you say it, but in reality it’s not.

How did you decide on the real life history-changing women you feature in your series?

We’ve done a lot of research with parents in the past year and we’ve seen that they are especially concerned about the lack of strong female role models. That’s why we decided to feature real women.


If the ‘Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls’ book series sounds like the kind of literature you want for your daughter (why wouldn’t you?!) be sure to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign and secure your copy by clicking here.





  1. Hi all, this is my bedtime story, it tells about the little Marianna, a little girl who avoids a war between two opposite kingdoms with a magical spell which tastes of hippie style, a short tale pacifist and colorful: “Marianna, queen of flowers” (in italian and english)

  2. Pingback: 'Science Wide Open' Book Series Teaches Girls About Science & Inspires Them With Role Models - GirlTalkHQ

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