Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is my daughter’s favourite book and favourite Eid present ever (her words, not mine).

Imaan first read some of the stories when her teacher bought it as an addition to his ‘Special book chest’. This is a selection of his personal favourites that the children can borrow in addition to the regular weekly books and the library books.

Rebel Girls is one of the ‘most borrowed’ books from the chest. Imaan was incredibly excited to open her own copy on Eid morning and proudly wrote her name in as soon as she could.

Both of my children (7 year old daughter, 5 year old son) love hearing the stories, choosing their favourites and talking about why they’ve been drawn to them. It really is an inspiration for all children, not just girls, to find out about achievements that aren’t widely celebrated on TV or on the magazines or social media.

You have the names that everyone has heard from history lessons (but not always remembered) as well as some more obscure but equally important stories. There is a fantastic mix of cultures, ethnicity, ages, and inspirational stories from all walks of life.

Most children will be able to pick up the book and find a role model that looks like them. That may an initial draw for some children but then as they read on they cannot fail to be inspired by the amazing stories of how often small actions can have a big impact on society.

On another note, there are so many different jobs and roles in society that these women and girls represent. From Alek Wek in fashion, to Michelle Obama, properly credited as a lawyer by profession (and at the time, First Lady). When I was a kid, I had no idea of the jobs or wider roles in society that men and women could do.

When I was 10 we had a memorial video company come to school and film us answering questions about our lives at age 10 and what we wanted to do in the future. I was stuck. I didn’t have the words to explain what I wanted to do. I just knew that I didn’t want to be a doctor, teacher, plumber, author… or any of the limited jobs I new existed. The team and the teacher were pressuring me to answer but I just couldn’t bring myself to say “just anything” or “just choose one” as it wasn’t me. If I had a book like this to open my eyes to what I could do, maybe I would have had an answer that I was happy with.

Of all of these inspiring stories, which is my daughter Imaan’s (current) favourite? Not Michelle Obama, not Malala, not Marie Curie, but…

…Ashley Fiolek.

Ashley Fiolek is a deaf motorcross rider from the US, who ignored the naysayers who said she couldn’t ride motorcross without being able to hear the engines. She uses her other senses, particularly touch, to feel the revs of the engine and changes in the wind as competitors ride up beside her to overtake. I don’t know what drew Imaan to this story above all others. It may have been the deaf connection – I am very open about my partial deafness and my own little adaptations – or it may have been the strong will and defiant stance that spoke to Imaan’s heart.

Either way, I am so glad that my children have a wonderful resource to turn to when they feel lacking in inspiration or deflated after a tough day at school. It shows them that there are many different ways to measure success, and it often starts with saying “Yes, I can”.


(By the way, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is currently half price at Amazon, so is a steal at just £9)

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