Have you ever wanted to know what happened to Harry after he graduated from Hogwarts? What do the Among Us crewmates do when they aren’t hunting for imposters? Did Alice ever go back to Wonderland?
If your kids (or you!) have ever wondered what happened to their favorite characters after their stories ended, they aren’t the only ones—fanfiction authors have asked the same thing. Increasingly popular with readers (and writers) of all ages, fanfiction stories are taking the Internet by storm. According to Vice, popular fanfiction sites get over 1.7 billion pageviews a month!
But what are fanfiction stories, where can your kiddos read them, and just how appropriate are they for children? Let’s find out!
What Is Fanfiction?
The answer to this question is pretty simple—it’s all in the name!
Fanfiction stories are works of fiction containing elements from preexisting stories and franchises. How does this work? Well, writers of fanfiction, usually amateur fans, take the characters, setting, and various plot elements from their favorite stories and rework them to create their own original work of fiction.
Fanfiction is a relatively free genre of storytelling, meaning that writers are able to get pretty creative. The only requirement when writing a fanfiction story is the desire to spend more time with your favorite characters. Often, these stories seek to expand the original story’s universe and create new content for other fans to read. For example, an author might craft a story that explores what happened to Cinderella after she married Prince Charming. Other fanfiction stories take these characters and place them in different, creative settings. Anyone wonder what would happen if the Hogwarts students went to a regular high school? I imagine there’d be a lot of drama thanks to social media.
However, fanfiction stories aren’t always about fictional characters like Hermione Granger—they can also be about real-life people. The boy band One Direction, for example, has over 50,000 stories written about them on the website Archive of Our Own!
You might be surprised, but fanfiction has been around since long before the Internet was invented. Many popular authors and playwrights got their start writing “fanfiction” about real-life, historical figures. Ever heard of one William Shakespeare? My personal favorite of his plays, Hamlet, is a work of Elizabethan fanfiction based on a medieval Danish epic!
Is Fanfiction Appropriate for Kids?
Now that we know what fanfiction is, let’s get to the big Q: are fanfiction stories appropriate for kids?
As with most media, there isn’t a black and white answer to this question. While there are certainly a plethora of stories out there that are appropriate for kids of all ages, there are also plenty of fanfiction stories written by adults for adults. As such, they may contain adult themes, graphic violence, and sexual situations. While fanfiction doesn’t get visual, literary pornography is just as harmful to young poeple as its visual counterpart.
Thankfully, fanfiction websites make it easy for parents and kids to filter out stories with inappropriate content by including a rating system, like that used by movies and TV shows. If you don’t want your child to read anything rated Teen and up, you can filter it out so only appropriate media shows up in the search bar. Each story also includes a brief synopsis at the beginning which warns parents and readers about any adult content that the story contains.
If you feel comfortable letting your kiddo read fanfiction, make sure to do some research and sit with them as they search for a story. A pair of watchful eyes always helps to ensure that they don’t get exposed to anything too serious.
Where Can My Kids Read Fanfiction?
Back in the day, it was pretty difficult for fans to find works of fanfiction. Prospective readers had to subscribe to something called a fanzine, short for fan magazine. These fanzines were shipped out using the good ol’ fashioned postal service. Once they showed up in the mailbox, readers could catch up on the continued adventures of their favorite characters.
Since the advent of a little something called the Internet, however, it’s gotten much easier for kids to find and read fanfiction stories. Several popular websites, like FanFiction.net and Archive of Our Own, are devoted to fanfiction and give amateur authors a place to share their work. Fanfiction isn’t only on these sites, though. It can be found all over the Internet, including on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.
How Can My Child Start Writing Fanfiction Stories?
So, your kiddo has heard about the fanfiction phenomenon and wants to try their hand at writing their own stories. That’s great!
Perhaps I’m biased (I’m definitely biased), but I’m a firm believer that putting pen to paper is one of the best ways kids can exercise their creativity—and the science backs me up. Studies report that creative writing helps kids enhance thought processing skills, develops their language abilities, and unleashes their inner creative energy.
Writing fanfiction is a particularly great way for kids and teens to practice their writing skills and flex their creative muscles. All they need is a pen and paper (or keyboard) and an active imagination. Of course, it can be difficult for kids to think up exciting ideas for stories. If that happens, the Troomi KidSmartⓇ app My Creative Diary might help them come up with some ideas. The app gives your kiddo several writing prompts every day, and might just catalyze some pretty engaging storytelling.
Fanfiction Stories Help Kids Get Creative
Fanfiction is a pretty interesting genre of literature—and it may not be for everyone. If your child is excited about reading and creating their own stories featuring characters they love, try creating an atmosphere where they can feel comfortable exercising their creativity.
If they decide to write their own stories, let them know that they can share their work with you. Encourage them in their efforts, and offer them help when needed. Who knows—your little author might just be the next William Shakespeare.