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Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Book Poster Image
Inspiring, kid-friendly tales of extraordinary women.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of biographical and historical detail in these 100 stories of extraordinary women and girls who achieved great things. Exposes young kids to all sorts of career paths and disciplines, including astronomy, paleontology, primatology, architecture, journalism, science, sports, the arts, and more. One story profiles a transgender elementary school girl. A doctor explains to her parents, "She was born in a boy's body but, deep inside, she feels that she's a girl and she should be allowed to be one."

Positive Messages

Follow your dreams. Don't listen to anyone who says you can't do something because you're a girl. Women have achieved great things throughout history, even if they weren't as recognized for their achievements. Be yourself. "Nobody can tell me what I can and cannot do" (Amna Al Haddad, a contemporary weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates). "When the whole word is silent, even one voice becomes powerful" (Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai). "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it" (former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). "No one is born smart. You become smart though hard work" (First Lady Michelle Obama).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everyone profiled is a positive role model who shows courage, talent, hard work, perseverance, and determination.

Violence & Scariness

Some references to wars and people dying in battle. The story of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai describes the incident in which Taliban men came onto her school bus and shot her: " ... the men fired their guns, hitting her in the head. ... Malala was rushed to the hospital, and she did not die." In the story of Brazillian surfer Maya Gabeira, a wave catches her by surprise and she suffers broken bones "and almost drowned before her partner rescued her and gave her CPR." 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a collection of 100 one-page stories about women throughout history who broke barriers and achieved great things. Some are well known (at least to parents) and well chronicled, including Cleopatra, Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, Joan Jett, and Jane Austen. And some are lesser known (at least in America), such as Matilde Montoya, Mexico's first female doctor, and Sonita Alizadeh, a 20-year-old rapper from Afghanistan who refused to be sold into marriage and whose song "Brides for Sale" went viral on YouTube. One story features a transgender American girl who broke barriers at her elementary school. The brief biographical sketches spotlight a telling anecdote about each woman or girl told in simple language, generally in four to six paragraphs in a relatively large font size, making them highly readable. Facing each page is a quote from the featured person and a stylized color portrait by one of 60 contributing female artists from around the world. A spread at the back invites readers to "Write Your Own Story" and "Draw Your Own Portrait." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBrent- Stacy T. May 18, 2018

Biased author

I was very excited to see the first few stories in this book, but shortly after getting in it gives the acct of a little boy who wants to be called a little gi... Continue reading
Adult Written bycaik June 9, 2019
Kid, 11 years old November 27, 2018

Book Recommendation Review

This is a really great book! But the only reason that I think it is for 11 year olds and up is because it has transgender, lesbian, and the words "I'm... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 1, 2018

These are the stories children should be reading

This is a great bedtime pick that substitutes real life heroes and great role models for Disney princesses. There are a couple mentions of people dying (several... Continue reading

What's the story?

GOOD NIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS offers brief biographical sketches and selected anecdotes of about 100 women and girls who broke gender barriers and accomplished extraordinary things with their talent, genius, vision, and drive. Arranged in alphabetical order by first name, they're told as inviting, entertaining stories, many beginning with "Once upon a time ... " or "Once there was a girl who ... ." Also, they highlight a dazzling array of fields, including science, medicine, literature, the arts, sports, politics, fashion, politics, the military, and more from a variety of countries, including a 16th-century pirate from Ireland, a 20th-century Formula One race car driver fom Italy, a 19th-century spy from Colombia, and many queens and warriors. Sixty artists from around the world contributed the colorful portraits that accompany each story. 

Is it any good?

This lively collection of stories about pioneering women and girls is sure to inspire and entertain both kids and adults. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls encourages kids to think big, follow their dreams, never give up, and never listen to anyone who says you can't achieve something because you're female. It's great as a read-aloud for boys and girls or independent reading for older kids and offers a wonderful introduction to the many possible career paths open to all. 

A sobering message in the preface reminds readers how much these extraordinary women struggled for recognition and respect: "No matter the importance of their discoveries, the audacity of their adventures, the width of their genius -- they were constantly belittled, forgotten, in some cases erased from history. It is important that girls understand the obstacles that lie in front of them. It is just as important that they know these obstacles are not insurmountable."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different women in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Which stories do you like best? Why? How many of the women had you heard of before? 

  • What kinds of obstacles did these women face as they pursued their dreams? What do you think you'd have done in their position?

  • Why are the girls and women in this book considered rebels? Do you consider yourself a "rebel girl"? Do girls still face barriers as they try to achieve great things? 

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