Trigger Warnings for Certain Children's Classics

“Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as ‘trigger warnings,’ explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.”—Warning: The Literary Canon Could Make Students Squirm, by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, 5/17/2014

Where the Wild Things Are—WARNING: This work includes disturbing depictions of stern parenting, including a child being sent to his room with no dinner. Sensitive readers may find this triggers unpleasant memories of that time Mommy got upset with them for misbehaving at the mall.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—WARNING: This work includes about 11,000 casual uses of the “N” word. Though elemental to the theme of the book and representative of actual usage and vernacular among many residents of 19th century America, sensitive readers may find this triggers a personal confrontation with America’s unpleasant and inconvenient history of slavery, and an awareness of how persistent racism continues to inform the complex state of race relations in the U.S. today. Thoughtful reflection may result.

Green Eggs and Ham—WARNING: This work includes depictions of a character being offered a meal that initially seems highly unappealing to him. Sensitive individuals may find this triggers memories of that time Mommy made them try stewed zucchini.

Goodnight Moon—WARNING: This book includes rhyming couplets. Sensitive individuals may find this triggers involuntary rhyming chiming through their heads. Oh, dammit.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a child living in extreme poverty. Children who have been sheltered from the knowledge that such children exist may find that this triggers fears that someone is going to come and take away their things.

Harold and the Purple Crayon—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a child forsaking crayons of all other colors for a purple crayon. This may trigger fears of exclusion in sensitive children who aren’t purple.

Charlotte’s Web—WARNING: This book includes depictions of a cute talking piglet. Young vegetarians may find that this tempts them to try bacon.