The best book to challenge gender stereotypes with your children

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Virginia Mendez, mother of 2 and author of 2 children’s books and a parenting book about the topic of gender equality from childhood. My day job is in Diversity and Inclusion Consulting, and I train companies and schools on how to bring more gender equality into their organisations. I wasn’t always a feminist, but I was by the time I was pregnant with my first child, and it made me determined to make the world a more fair place for everyone. Everyone. 


I wrote...

Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias

By Virginia Mendez,

Book cover of Childhood Unlimited: Parenting Beyond the Gender Bias

What is my book about?

Raising your child beyond the limitations placed on them by gender is an uphill battle. If you don't know where or how to start, you will find inspiration, insight, and plenty of practical strategies in my book. From navigating the gendered constructs that dominate children's films, television, and media to choosing appropriate and stimulating toys beyond the binary divide, this accessible and relatable book will make the whole process much less daunting.

Based on interviews and research by some of the best thought leaders from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and education, the insights in this book will open the eyes of any parent or caregiver and inspire you to help your child look at the world in a critical, creative, and empowered way. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Paper Bag Princess

Virginia Mendez Why did I love this book?

This is a fantastic story with a strong female role model that reverts a lot of the classic princess stories.

It is a fabulous story about a brave and wonderful girl who refuses to be defined by her wardrobe or to whose idea of “living happily ever after” is much more than marrying a prince.

Fun and a great conversation starter!

By Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Paper Bag Princess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over five million copies in print!

When the fiercest dragon in the whole world smashes Princess Elizabeth's castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiance, Prince Ronald, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. With her wits alone and nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince. But is it worth all that trouble?

Readers the world-over have fallen in love with this classic story of girl power. Now a newly designed Classic Munsch edition will introduce the tale to a new generation of…


Book cover of Simone de Beauvoir

Virginia Mendez Why did I love this book?

I love how beautifully illustrated the Little People Big Dreams series is and how they follow important people in history through their childhood in a very inspiring, fun, and accessible way. They don’t run away from difficult topics, but they are very age-appropriate.

I have a lot of them, and they are brilliant in showing diversity in a lot of different ways and the world-changing impact of being brave and true to yourself. 

By Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Christine Roussey (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Simone de Beauvoir as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

New in the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the incredible life of Simone de Beauvoir, the great French philosopher and mother of feminism.

When Simone de Beauvoir was a little girl, her father would proudly boast that she had the brain of a man - whatever that meant. But later, after years of studying, Simone would write a book that challenged the role of women in society, sending shock waves around the world. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed…


Book cover of My First Book Of Feminism (for Boys)

Virginia Mendez Why did I love this book?

This is an absolute favourite of mine as a gift for new baby boys.

It is in rhyme and has very easy illustrations. It is never too early to let people know that feminism is for everyone, including boys, and to show in an easy way the things that they can do to help but also expand the options for them. 

By Julie Merberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My First Book Of Feminism (for Boys) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Feminism begins at home—and My First Book of Feminism (for Boys) is where it begins!

Simple illustrations paired with engaging, rhyming text make the compelling, age appropriate argument that girls and boys are equal, plain and simple. Humorous, familiar scenarios are treated as teachable moments for very young boys (ages 0-3) who will ideally grow up without ever questioning women's equality. From "no means no," to "women's rights are human rights," important, grownup ideas are made clear and fun for young, impressionable minds. This is the book every mom should read to her son!


Book cover of Mary Wears What She Wants

Virginia Mendez Why did I love this book?

This is a great book about a little girl with fierce confidence. She stands strong for her beliefs despite setbacks. It is a great book to introduce in an age-appropriate way that women weren’t always treated as men, and the unfairness of it.

It is a very accessible reminder of the potential of bravery, speaking up, and pursuing what you know to be right. The power of one person taking a risk.

By Keith Negley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary Wears What She Wants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning creator of My Dad Used to Be So Cool and Tough Guys Have Feelings Too comes a charming picture book inspired by the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times for wearing pants.

Once upon a time (but not that long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants.

Until one day, a young girl named Mary had an idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants!

This bold, original picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender…


Book cover of Fastest woman on Earth: The story of Tatyana McFadden

Virginia Mendez Why did I love this book?

Kids can talk about diversity in a way that doesn’t have to be scary.

In this case, not only do the books talk about the differences of being a woman but also disabilities and being adopted and raised by a couple of lesbians. This is a book that embraces our own individuality and how we can succeed by doing things our own way.

It is inspiring and beautifully illustrated

By Francesca Cavallo, Luis San Vicente (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fastest woman on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From Francesca Cavallo, author of the NY Times bestseller Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

This is the story of 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden.
Born with spina bifida in Russia, Tatyana was raised in an orphanage where she walked on her hands for the first six years of her life. In 1994, she was adopted and moved to the United States, where she started racing and breaking records; and is now considered the best female wheelchair racer of all time, and the fastest woman on Earth.
First book in the non-fiction Paralympians series, a picture book series telling the…


You might also like...

The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

By John Winn Miller,

Book cover of The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

John Winn Miller

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The Hunt for the Peggy C is best described as Casablanca meets Das Boot. It is about an American smuggler who struggles to rescue a Jewish family on his rusty cargo ship, outraging his mutinous crew of misfits and provoking a hair-raising chase by a brutal Nazi U-boat captain bent on revenge.

During the nerve-wracking 3,000-mile escape, Rogers falls in love with the family’s eldest daughter, Miriam, a sweet medical student with a militant streak. Everything seems hopeless when Jake is badly wounded, and Miriam must prove she’s as tough as her rhetoric to put down a mutiny by some of Jake’s fed-up crew–just as the U-boat closes in for the kill.

The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

By John Winn Miller,

What is this book about?

John Winn Miller's THE HUNT FOR THE PEGGY C, a semifinalist in the Clive Cussler Adventure Writers Competition, captures the breathless suspense of early World War II in the North Atlantic. Captain Jake Rogers, experienced in running his tramp steamer through U-boat-infested waters to transport vital supplies and contraband to the highest bidder, takes on his most dangerous cargo yet after witnessing the oppression of Jews in Amsterdam: a Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution.

The normally aloof Rogers finds himself drawn in by the family's warmth and faith, but he can't afford to let his guard down when Oberleutnant Viktor…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gender roles, clothing, and France?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about gender roles, clothing, and France.

Gender Roles Explore 115 books about gender roles
Clothing Explore 36 books about clothing
France Explore 884 books about France