If you’re looking for an opportunity to invest financially in something that is going to make a positive impact in the life of a young child, look no further than the Kickstarter campaign raising money for a new children’s book series called ‘Queen Girls’. Many of us can remember iconic books that shaped our childhood and implanted ideas into our subconscious that we may have not even realized was happening at the time. Whether it is loneliness or the ability to dream in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, the introduction to rhyming in ‘Cat In The Hat’ or friendship and love in ‘Charlotte’s Web’, we can hearken back the nostalgia evoked in some of these titles.
But there is much more at play in terms of the types of messages promoted in children’s literature and media as they start to develop awareness. Most notably, gender roles. It’s common knowledge that girls grow up (generally speaking) seeing princesses, mothers, fairies and the like as their “role models”, whereas boys get a much more diverse range of characters, and especially career choices.
This is a pipeline problem that becomes a gendered epidemic later in life, which is why the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media focuses heavily on encouraging studios and networks to be conscious about decisions they make when creating characters in children’s media, knowing the visual representations on screen have a powerful impact on how they see the world and what is possible for them.
Which brings us to ‘Queen Girls’. This new book series leverages the popularity of fairytales and instead of fictional characters, swaps them out for real life female trailblazers and heroes. There is an all-female creative team behind this series too: founder Jimena Duran who has a background in content strategy and social media in the startup world, co-creator Andrea Doshi who works as a kids’ speech therapist, and Italy-based illustrator Chiara Fabbri.
The team are raising money to send the first book ‘Bessie, Queen of the Sky’ into production, which will be printed in hardcover in both English and Spanish. The next two releases are ‘Isadora, the Rebel Queen’ inspired by the story of Isadora Duncan, a ballerina who defied conventionalist minds by moving away from rigid ballet technique towards what today we refer to as Modern Dance or Barefoot Style, and ‘Savi, Queen of Education’, Inspired by the story of Savitribhai Phule, a poet, an educationalist and a social reformer from India who became the first female teacher at the first women’s school founded by her and her family.
The first book follows the life of pioneer American pilot Bessie Coleman, who was the first African American woman in the world to receive her pilot’s license. The story allows readers to learn about Bessie’s poor upbringing picking cotton with her family, then eventually moving to a big city when she was older to work and save up for a pilot’s license, only to learn the school she was applying to didn’t accept girls.
The only place that did was a French flying school, which led Bessie to travel to Paris to learn the language. She earned her pilot’s license within a year and then returned home to America as a hero, where she earned the nickname “Queen of the Sky”.
Now imagine a young girl reading this book growing up learning about the real barriers women throughout history have faced, and permanently lodging the message into their subconscious that they can do anything they dream about, despite their gender and the opposition that comes their way. That is the power of children’s literature right there!
On the Kickstarter campaign, the creative team explain how they want to give girls a positive view of life and enable them to dream big, by showcasing real women.
“Often times, classic stories highlight the strength, courage, and skills of men. Female characters are often stereotyped or one-dimensional: the mother figure, the home-maker, the exotic beauty, the love-seeker. We believe that we should be telling different stories to our children. Let’s encourage girls to find happiness, passion, drive, and self-confidence from within. At the same time, let’s help boys to move to a place of equality,” they said.
Another layer to this campaign and the book series is the one-for-one model, where, for each book purchased, one will be given to a child living in a less fortunate situation. ‘Queen Girls’ is partnering with local and international organizations who are fighting illiteracy, and empowering girls.
We’ve seen what a huge need there is for books like this, with series such as ‘Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ which became the most-funded children’s book in Kickstarter history (raising over $675,000 when they only originally asked for $40,000), ‘Stem Gems’ which profiles 44 real life women in the STEM world, and ‘Bea is for Business’ which introduces entrepreneurship and basic business skills to young girls. In other words, there is precedence for ‘Queen Girls’ with parents and creators are now taking advantage of a gap in the children’s literature market.
You can donate to the ‘Queen Girls’ Kickstarter while it is still running and invest in a young girls ability to dream and create her own future. Her more from Jimena and Andrea in the video below: