By Amelie Welden and Michelle R. McCann
We wrote Girls Who Rocked the World because we want to give girls the tools they need to be creative, brave, thoughtful, and strong. We want to inspire them with stories of incredible girls from history and around the world. The collection includes short profiles of girls who did something amazing before the age of 20--from Harriet Tubman and Coco Chanel to S.E. Hinton and Maya Lin.
But does it actually matter if girls read stories about heroines? We believe it does, because…
Girls should know their missing history.
Writer and educator Myra Pollack Sadker once said, “Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.” Conversely, when a girl opens a book full of girls and women who have done amazing, inspiring, world-rocking things, she learns that she is worth more. That she can overcome obstacles in her path. That her dreams are important and achievable.
Girls should stand up for themselves.
With the recent Harvey Weinstein revelations,the subsequent #metoo movement, and the growing number of women who are speaking out about harassment and abuse in sectors from entertainment to politics, it’s clear that young women in every career field and all walks of life are being bullied,belittled and pressured by powerful men. The women who speak out show great courage. We want girls to have similar courage to speak up for themselves and to demand respect. Role models like those in Girls Who Rocked the World can serve as examples --girls who have struggled and overcome enormous obstacles. True heroes.
Girls should embrace diversity.
Just as women and girls have been shut out of most history books, so have other minority groups. We are living in a time of intense conflict and misunderstanding between different groups: races, religions, sexual identities. The more we know about each other, the more common ground we will find, and the more empathy will grow. Our girls need to read stories of diverse heroines like the ones found in Girls Who Rocked the World of African slave poet Phillis Wheatley, Tongan Queen Salote Tupou, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, and Guatemalan Nobel Prize-winner Rigoberta Menchu.
Girls should be encouraged.
There’s a common thread running through the stories in Girls Who Rocked the World. Almost always there was an adult—a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a mentor—who said to each girl, “You can do it.” Someone who believed in her and told her so. Following your dreams can be hard. And scary. Girls need us to say, “You can do it. I believe in you.”
Girls should take action.
Now’s the time! Girls don’t have to wait to be grown up to go for their dreams. The girls in Girls Who Rocked the World didn’t wait! If you want to be an astronaut, now is the time to study science, go to NASA camp, get fit. If you want to make graphic novels, why not start drawing and writing them now? Find an artist to intern with. Job shadow at a publishing house. Start on your path.
In the end, we want girls to understand that we can all be heroes. “Rocking the world” doesn’t necessarily mean becoming famous, powerful, or rich. It can also mean taking a chance, making a change, encouraging someone, standing up for yourself, or any one of the many things we can each do to be a positive force in the lives of others while also meeting the struggles and challenges we face in our own lives. We hope everyone who reads the book will go out and rock the world in their own unique way!