You’re never too young to learn about the power of being a woman.
That’s the message Sharita Manickam and Jen Bruno of Forest Hills will share in their new picture book project, “Rad Girl Revolution.”
The book — a work in progress, which met its funding goals on Kickstarter Saturday — includes photos of young girls between the ages of 2 and 8 portrayed as scientists, judges, astronauts and even the president of the United States.
“There are a lot of great girl empowerment books, but they are geared toward older girls and mostly focused on women in history,” said Manickam, who has two young daughters. “This is for girls to picture themselves in the future.”
The authors' Kickstarter campaign met its $15,000 goal on Saturday, nine days after launching, they announced on the fundraising website.
"If you wanna know the details, we are jumping up and down and celebrating like victorious Olympians!" they wrote in a message thanking their 440 backers. The money will go toward financing remaining photoshoots and printing the first 1,000 copies of their book.
“We are inspired by the increased momentum toward gender equality, and feel that putting these images and rhymes in front of today’s youth can help better level the playing field from the start,” the duo said in their Kickstarter page earlier this month.
Manickam and Bruno are neighbors and bonded during playdates with their children. Manickam’s daughter Leela and Bruno’s son Henry are both 5 years old.
The 2016 presidential election inspired them to take on the project. Manickam has worked as a writer and in marketing. Bruno is a photographer.
“Around the time of the election, we could feel the energy in the neighborhood that we could have a female president,” said Bruno. “I was trying to explain to my son how big a deal this could be, and I could see on his face complete confusion about why in the world there had not already been a female president.”
They took a poem Manickam had written to her daughters that explores different career paths. Bruno, a photographer, is working with friends and local children to illustrate those words.
There’s a sassy photo of a young girl in a police uniform leaning on a patrol car, a scientist peering through a magnifying glass and a judge, gavel in hand.
Manickam said they wanted to target a young audience after learning gender stereotypes are often set by the age of 6.
Even in the most progressive households, children can still be influenced by society and the media, they said.
“We teach my daughter she can do anything,” said Manickam. “But she still said, ‘I wish I were a boy. I want to play basketball.’”
The “Rad” in the title is actually an acronym for Rise Above Doubt and Reach Any Dream.
The duo hopes the book will be ready by the end of the year, and they will announce a new fundraising goal on Monday.
Bruno said she has seen her young subjects “puff with pride” during her photo shoots.
“Even our most bashful models walk with swagger when they realize the power of infinite possibilities,” she said.