A Book That Refuses to Sugarcoat History

Written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women is meant to inspire girls to empower themselves. Schatz writes that it is meant to motivate a girl “to take risks, to work hard, and to be her own best, bold, brilliant self.” Although it is a needed addition to curricula in schools, it is of interest to all ages and sexual orientations.

In this interview, Kate Schatz discusses how she defines a “rad girl,” what prompted her to write the book and how a children’s book can be radical in combating white supremacist misogyny.

Mark Karlin: After successfully publishing Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, how did you and Miriam decide to focus on young women in your new book?

Author Kate Stahl and illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl.
Author Kate Stahl and illustrator Miriam Klein Stahl.
Casey Org

Kate Schatz: We love making books together and were thrilled to make a third. We had a few ideas for what it might be, but ultimately, we got the idea for Rad Girls Can from our young readers (and some of their parents and teachers and grown-up friends) who came to our readings and, well, asked for it. Over and over we heard the questions “Can you make a book about girls?” and “Can you make a book about people my age?” We decided to listen to our readers, and are very glad we did.

How do you define a “rad girl”?

A rad girl is creative and passionate and curious and kind. She stands up for herself, and for others. She may not know exactly who she is or what she wants to be, but she cares and she dreams and she wants to make things happen. She is willing to take risks, to work hard, and to be her own best, bold, brilliant self.

How did you choose who to include in Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women?

It wasn’t easy — especially since there is seemingly no end to contemporary stories of rad young women making change and…

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