100 stories about extraordinary women for young rebels
The youngest volunteers at Festivaletteratura are more than ready to play their part. They will write about the events and workshops at Casa del Mantegna, which are dedicated to children.
Girls and women of all ages gathered in the courtyard to listen to the tales of 100 extraordinary women who fought for freedom, justice and their human rights, as told by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli.
The project started off as a newsletter which was sent to a few dozen people before, unexpectedly, it became more and more popular and ended up in the inbox of thousands.
With a clear idea of the project in mind, the two writers turned to Silicon Valley looking for support for their idea through crowdfunding.
The majority of children's literature features male protagonists and women almost always have secondary roles.
The female figures depicted in this collection of stories come from all over the world, they have different faces and bodies and this is exactly what we see in the illustrations.
The book has now been translated into languages that the authors didn't even know existed, reaching a truly global audience and it has become the bedtime read for children everywhere, each one reading the stories in their own way: choosing by profession, portrait, following the order of the stories or simply by chance.
The success of their project has been particularly important for the authors, who want to do away with the stereotypes of books for girls and books for boys, and write a book that has women as protagonists.
The word rebel was discouraged by their publishers, being seen as an undesirable world and, according to some concerned parents, setting a bad example. For the two authors, however, "being a rebel is fundamental".
They spoke about how a six year old black girl saw the film Frozen and, like all other girls her age, wanted to be Elsa; one of her classmates told her that she couldn't be Elsa because of her dark skin. The girl went back to her mother telling her that she no longer wants to eat chocolate so her skin would become lighter.
The mother told her daughter the story of Alek Wek, a Sudanese model, who said "it's about telling girls from a young age that it's OK to be quirky, it's fine to be shy. You don't have to go with the crowd." The girl asked her mother to read her this story every night for about a month, and she carried on eating chocolate.
These stories provide a model for many youngsters who recognise themselves in these women, gaining the courage to be rebellious.