Reviewed by Zapoura Newton-Calvert
Much like its prequel, The World Needs More Purple People, The World Needs More Purple Schools by Kristen Bell, Benjamin Hart, and Daniel Wiseman celebrates a “purple world,” where “different people come together to mix their stories, their ideas, and their smarts to make something special.” The illustrations are colorful, with diverse children and teachers learning, playing, and asking big questions. Readers are welcomed by Penny Purple, the same white protagonist as in the first book, and are shown various school and community scenarios illustrating the tenets of purple-ness, including curiosity, hard work, silliness, speaking up, and “just being you.”
In her review of the first book in the series, Social Justice Books Program Specialist Paige Pagan wrote, “In Bell and Hart’s attempt at unity, they actually fall into tropes of divisiveness through colorblind racism and blindspot bias. Children are left with a contradictory sense of social identity.” The sequel continues these patterns and prescriptive formats rather than interrupting and addressing them. While color mixing to make purple is used as a central metaphor, the various intersecting social identities (including race) that impact each student and the social systems (including racism) that impact the entire school community are ignored completely. The prescriptive format initiated in the first book persists here, leaving little room for the nuanced contexts and lived experiences within our actual schools in real communities. Continue reading on Reading is Resistance.
Zapoura Newton-Calvert serves as a fellow with Teaching for Change. She is a professor, emergent strategist, curriculum writer, and co-founder of Reading Is Resistance.
The World Needs More Purple Schools by Kristen Bell, Benjamin Hart
Published by Random House Children's Books on June 21, 2022
Genres: Racial Identity
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2
Review Source: Reading Is Resistance
Also by this author: The World Needs More Purple People
Publisher's Synopsis: It's back to school with Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart! Learn how to paint your school purple with this follow-up to The World Needs More Purple People.
Penny Purple taught us how to be a purple person. A person who finds common ground with others while celebrating what makes them unique! Now Penny and her pals will put their purple skills into action in their very favorite place — their classroom!