As of March 2016, we have a “content warning” section on each post of our site: one part dedicated to the post itself, and one dedicated to the book being discussed in a review. This is something we should have done from the very beginning of Disability in Kidlit, and we apologize unreservedly for not doing so.
These warnings are in the form of links between the author byline and the post itself. Clicking them expands the warning. In some cases, where there’s a lot of detail or where the warnings may involve significant spoilers, we may have a simple version of the warning, and you’ll have the choice to scroll down for a more detailed and potentially spoilery version. Clicking the link again will hide the warning.
We are aiming to include potential warnings with all new posts going forward, although it may take us a little while to properly implement this. We also want to add warnings for all our posts to date; this means we have well over 200 posts to catch up on. As you can imagine, this is an ongoing process. We have assembled a small team behind-the-scenes to help us with this. If you see any content in a post that you feel we should have warned for, please feel free to comment on the post or on this page, or to email us, and we will take a look.
What will be more complicated is to include warnings for the books, as it’s not feasible for us to read nearly 100 books to check for potential warnings. We will be in touch with our reviewers, but we also want to invite anyone who may have read one or these books or who is about to, to reach out to us with additions. Again, please feel free to either comment on the review or on this post. You may also email us.
If you want to help, below is a list of elements to look out for. We’ve separated these by rough categories. By their very nature, these warnings will include mentions of potentially upsetting material, so please be advised.
It appears like we’re asking for an awful lot of detail; we don’t expect anyone to go through the book with a fine-tooth comb. Warnings can range from “depiction of bullying” to “detailed depiction of the child protagonist being bullied by older relatives in chapter twelve” and everything in between. Any information that we don’t currently have listed is welcome, so please don’t feel as though you either need to include all this detail or simply not bother. We merely want to make sure we list potentially important elements that people might not otherwise consider.
In addition, it would be very helpful if you noted the following:
- Is the element graphic, detailed, or cursory? Is it a mention, discussion, or depiction/description?
- If the warning refers to a one-time-only scene/instance of a potentially significant trigger, it helps to mention that and perhaps include the chapter, so that people may prepare themselves or skip it, rather than needing to avoid the entire book.
- If something could constitute a spoiler, we can separate it out from the main warning.
- Ideally, we’d have a brief, unspoilery version for each book, as well as a more detailed (and spoilery where needed) version.
- assault, harassment, violence, abuse
- Note category: sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, etc.
- Note methods: manipulation, gaslighting, bullying, choking, kidnapping, being tied or locked up, etc.
- Note perpetrator: parent, authority figure, romantic/sexual partner, trusted friend or relative, stranger, a group, etc.
- Note victim: whether they’re a point-of-view character or secondary, and whether they’re a minor
- (parental) neglect
- traumatic events, natural disasters
- Note type: (near-)drowning, earthquake, etc.
- (attempted) suicide, suicidal ideation, self-harm, nightmares, unreality, depersonalization, hallucinations, addiction, fear-induced paralysis, etc.
- Note subject: point-of-view character or secondary? Are you deeply embedded in their state of mind? If the character is secondary, do you get detailed depictions/descriptions of their behavior, state of mind, or reasoning?
- slurs, oppression-based hatred or shaming, hate crimes, ableist language or behavior, other types of oppressive language or behavior, Nazi paraphernalia/discussions or depictions of the Holocaust,
- Note target/group/type of hatred: homophobia, racism, transmisogyny, anti-Blackness, ableism, ableism toward intellectually disabled people, etc.
- Where applicable, please mention whether the behavior is called out, ignored, or condoned in the book.
- eating disordered behavior, descriptions of food, calorie/weight numbers, body shaming
- genocide, murder, warfare, slavery, death, corpses/skulls/skeletons, weapons
- swearing, sex, sexual content, drug use
- animal abuse/death
- serious injury, pregnancy/childbirth, needles, blood, vomit, body horror
- spiders, insects, snakes