List of Issues

Below is a list of issues I come across in the books I read. Also known as “triggers,” these issues are things that might cause backlash in the classroom. Each individual review will have a section for issues and an explanation of how they come up in the book.

What might be appropriate for one grade or even one student might not be for another. For instance, a book with bullying might be “okay” for grades 6-12, but a book with swearing might only be “okay” for high school shelves.

Obviously, you know your classroom, students, and parents best, so I won’t be making grade-level recommendations. Use your best judgment when choosing books for your room!

Alcohol Use characters discuss, admit to, or actively consume alcoholic beverage underage; does not apply to characters over age 21
Blood depictions of blood (only applies to graphic novels, as they are a visual medium)
Bullying characters reference, advocate, participate in, or are victims of bullying; may be physical, social/emotional, exclusionary, or online (cyberbullying)
Death characters die during the book; the death of characters not within the book affect the lives and emotions of characters
Deceit characters trick one another or make plans to trick one another to get their way; for example, the Trojan Horse
Drug Use characters discuss, admit to, or actively use illegal substances, including smoking underage
Eating Disorders characters participate in harmful eating habits; characters may suffer from body dysmorphia and/or one of many eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, purging disorder, etc.)
Emotional Abuse characters are manipulated, mistreated, or otherwise emotionally abused by another character in the book (ex. family member, other authority figure, peer); book contains references to this
Horror Elements book contains descriptions or depictions of creatures or settings designed to scare the characters, audience, or both
Lying characters tell untruths directly to one another’s faces or discuss lying in the past; for example, denying having broken a window
Man-made Disaster a tragedy, such as a sinking ship, house fire, or nuclear meltdown, is part of the plot
Murder characters discuss, admit to, reference, plan to, or actively engage in killing another character
Natural Disaster a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or meteor strike, is part of the plot
Nudity depictions of the naked body for either artistic, plot-related, or sexual purposes (only applies to graphic novels, as they are a visual medium)
Other Illegal Activity characters refer to, admit to, or participate in illegal activities beyond using illegal substances, theft, rape, or murder; see details on the individual book for more information
Physical Abuse characters are beaten, tortured, or otherwise physically abused by someone in the book (ex. family member, other authority figure, peer); references to such things happening
Prejudice characters speak and/or behave in negatively biased ways towards other characters; author promotes a positive view of prejudiced behavior
Rape characters discuss, admit to, or engage in non-consensual sexual activity in the book; also includes statutory rape (physical activity involving a minor)
Religion discussions of religious tenets; scenes including religious practices; a character’s religion might be an important aspect of their personality; religion is part of the conflict or a major plot point
Sex characters discuss, admit to, or engage in consensual sexual activity in the book
Sexual Abuse characters are sexually abused by other characters in the book (family members, authority figures, peers); references are made to these activities
Shaming author or characters make statements designed to shame characters and, vicariously, readers into changing their behavior
Suicide characters reference, consider, attempt, or succeed in committing suicide; author promotes and/or glorifies suicide
Supremacy characters in the book believe they are superior to others due to race, creed, sex, etc.; book deals with themes, messages, or groups that support supremacist ideas
Swearing the author uses foul language ranging from tame (crap) to extreme (fuck) in the book, either to emphasize a character trait or because of their voice or style; see the book’s description for more information
Theft characters discuss, admit to, or participate in the stealing of another person’s property in the book
Verbal Abuse characters are teased, derided, scorned, or otherwise verbally abused by a character in the book (ex. family member, other authority figure, peer); book references such things occurring
Violence book contains scenes of physical violence with intent to harm; does not apply to sports-related violence, such as football tackles or boxing
War descriptions and/or depictions of military engagements and combat
Weapon Use characters use weapons, either for recreation (sport) or with intent to harm others