When Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo wanted to publish the kind of children’s book they wished they had had when they were growing up, they turned to Kickstarter to fund Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a middle-grade exploration of historical female role models.
Favilli and Cavallo are founders of four-year-old Timbuktu Labs and creators of Timbuktu Magazine, the first iPad magazine for children. “Our entrepreneurial journey made us understand how important it is for girls to grow up surrounded by female role models,” Favilli and Cavallo wrote on Kickstarter. “It helps them become more confident and set bigger goals. We realized that 95% of the books and TV shows we grew up with lacked girls in prominent positions. We did some research and discovered that this didn’t change much over the past 20 years.”
Favilli and Cavallo’s words clearly struck a chord, because they far exceeded their initial goal to raise $40,000 so that they could publish 1,000 6 x 9 hardcover versions of the book, which offers bedtime stories written as if they were fairytales about 100 inspiring women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. The accompanying color portraits that illustrate the book were created by 100 women artists from around the globe.
In addition to a copy of the book, Kickstarter perks include PDF coloring books with portraits of inspiring women, homeschooling kits with a lesson plan, and the opportunity to have the name of a daughter, niece, or friend printed in the book under the header “Girls who are going to change the world.”
Within two days of the April 28 launch of their crowdfunding campaign, Favilli and Cavallo had reached their goal. By May 18, their book had become the most funded children’s book in the history of Kickstarter. And by the campaign’s end over the Memorial Day weekend, they had reached 1689% of their funding goal and raised $675,614 with the help of 13,454 backers.
As a result of hitting every one of its stretch goals–add-on perks that Favilli and Cavallo promised for hitting greater levels of funding up to $500,000–each book will come with a Rebel Girls poster, tattoo pack, and an audiobook. In addition, Favilli and Cavallo are donating 400 books to Read to a Child, a nonprofit organization that attempts to bridge the literacy gap. In January they will fly to Rwanda and in partnership with the Art House Rwanda, an artist group based in the capital city of Kigali, they will give seven days of workshops for children and adults about female leadership.
“There are many reasons why Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is and will always be special to us,” Favilli and Cavallo posted on Kickstarter. “The obvious reasons: the ridiculous amount of money that we raised, the astonishing number of backers from all over the world, the embarrassing number of publications that covered us. The calls of agents and publishers and networks and producers. And there are less obvious reasons. Like the messages of soon-to-be moms and dads who told us that this is the first book they bought for their daughter.”
Preorders for the book through crowdfunding are continuing to pour in. As soon as the Kickstarter campaign ended, Favilli and Cavallo set up an Indiegogo InDemand campaign to give latecomers a chance to get copies of the book. In less than a week they added nearly 1,000 more backers and raised an additional $53,559, for a total of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. Books will ship in time for Christmas.