London schoolchildren inspired to write their own Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls with Ministry of Stories

On Monday a group of London children attended a workshop with Elena Favilli, co-author of bestselling book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (published by Penguin Press), where they were encouraged to talk and write about some of the inspirational women they look up to in their own lives.

Seventeen children from Year 5 at St John the Baptist Primary School in Hackney visited the Ministry of Stories for the special one-off workshop. Elena introduced the children to some of the extraordinary tales from the book and also spoke about why she and her co-author Francesca Cavallo felt it was so important to bring these stories to life. The workshop was filmed by Channel 4 News and broadcast last night.

Elena Favilli said, "It was absolutely incredible to see how engaged the children were with the stories and how thoughtful they were about the rebel women in their lives. They were so young and I was really impressed by how close they were to the subject. They were truly passionate and had no problem understanding why the book is for Rebel Girls. It was very clear to them why the book is necessary which is sometimes difficult for grown-ups. It's been a great privilege."

During the workshop the children were also asked to think about three rebel girls who they had been inspired by, after which they wrote and read aloud their own Goodnight Story about one woman. Starting with ‘Once upon a time…’, these stories featured Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Mary Seacole and Mary, mother of Jesus.

Another child wrote about their own mother: She is a social worker and does child protection. She makes sure children are safe. “It’s ok, don’t worry, everything will be fine,” she says. Any time people are angry she calms them down. I know this because she is my mum.

Talking about the workshop, Sarah Lowden, Assistant Head at St John the Baptist Primary School, said, "What's important for our children is to be reminded that they can be and do whatever they wish and even if they face trials and tribulations along the way, giving up is not the answer. It doesn't matter your starting point; you can go on to be the First Lady of the United States or a world famous gymnast. Being given the chance to meet authors, and be authors, is an experience that these children will never forget and will enrich their lives completely.”

Lucy Macnab, Director of Ministry of Stories, added, “We encourage the children we work with to unleash their imaginations and be brave and bold through the power of writing. The tales of extraordinary women in Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls are full of inspiration for both girls and boys and we are absolutely delighted to welcome Elena to the Ministry of Stories to share her work and meet our young writers.”

Casiana Ionita, Editorial Director at Penguin Press, said “It’s a real pleasure working with Ministry of Stories and seeing how children respond to these inspiring stories of women who have changed the world. The impact they have on enthusiastic young readers who start dreaming big couldn’t be more uplifting.”

You can watch the full clip from Channel 4 News here.


In 2016 Penguin Random House UK launched a three-year partnership with Ministry of Stories. We are supporting their efforts to reach new communities through both funding and expertise, as well as inspiring and mobilising our colleagues and authors to give their time and to fundraise. You can read more about Penguin Random House UK’s partnership with Ministry of Stories here.

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