Reading Fanfiction

This year the teen council at my public library held a fanfiction writing contest. Though I was not a voting member, I did read all of the entries. This was my first foray into the fanfiction world, a world that absorbs many of the teens that I work closely with on a regular basis. Through this, I learned a lot about fanfiction and its appeals, and I had to check some of my assumptions at the door.

Fanfiction Wordle

In the 2014 August issue of School Library Journal, Chelsey Philpot took an extensive look at fanfiction and teens. This highlights the creative outlet that writing fanfiction can be, and how it can be a place to explore emotions, sexuality, and identity for teen writers. One thing that surprised me through this process was that even though a lot of teens had written some fanfiction at some point, a lot of them just like to read it, and would like others to write it for them. This got me curious as to what were the major platforms they were accessing fanfiction on, especially as I will see mobile devices being passed around with a “have you seen this one?”

First thing I had to learn was some basic terminology of the types of fanfiction that there are, and how it is referred to:

  • Canon  – this is written in the world that the fanfiction is about and is something that could happen.
  • AU – “Alternative Universe” – this is where we are in the canon world but a few elements have been changed.
  • AU divergent – “Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence” – The story is set in a different universe from where the original takes place.
  • Crossover  – There are characters from different fandoms in a story.
  • One-Shot – There is only one body of text, usually a short story that is complete.

Apps:

Most teens seem to be reading fanfiction on a mobile devices through apps. These are a few of the most common:

Fanfiction.net

fanfictiondotnetMost of the teens I talked to felt that this was a starter site for young readers to access fanfiction. They said that this site “can be a bit sketchy,” and felt dated because of its “bad 90s graphics.” There were some ways to filter and narrow results to whether something was “in-process” or “complete,” word count, and with ratings:

  • K  Suitable for most ages
  • K+ Some content may not be suitable for small children
  • T Contains content not suitable for children
  • M Contains content suitable for mature teens and older
  • MA Contain explicit content for mature adults only

Wattpad

Wattpad Rebecca O’Neil’s fantastic piece on Wattpad for The Hub earlier this year shows what a great tool this is for writers. For avid readers, this doesn’t offer the easy access that they enjoy elsewhere, and seems to be a least favorite site among the teen readers I interviewed. It is a site where you need to create an account to access most of the content, and it is not as easy to filter to find desired content. However, they report that those that both avidly write and read fanfiction use this to build a writer’s community.

Tumblr

tumblrOf the apps, Tumblr is by far the favorite, and where most teens seem to be accessing their fanfiction. The favorite feature of Tumblr is that there are libraries and catalogs housing links to fanfiction pertaining to a particular fandom. An example of this is Phanfic, a catalog of fanfiction relating to YouTube stars Dan Howell and Phil Lester (Phil+Dan=Phan). Favorite features include “fic tags” where you can look for fiction by feels, smut levels and types of smut (smut is a very popular vocab word in the fanfic group), length, relationships, themes, and more. There are also options to submit prompts for those that would prefer to read than to write, but would like something very specific.

Websites:

Not every fandom has its own catalog on Tumblr though, but teens really like the ability to sort out the type of fanfiction that they are reading. Some of this is easier done through a web browser than through an app.

Archive of Our Own or AO3

AO3logoThis is the most popular site among the teens that I talked to, but doesn’t have an official app. The teens felt that this site had the best selection of fanfiction, and they really appreciated the many ways to filter by ratings (if and how explicit), warnings (how angsty and what types of angst), categories (relationship types), crossover, characters, relationships, and whether is was canon, AU, or canon divergence. You can also filter by word count, if it is a one-shot or if it has chapters, and if it is complete or in-progress. They appreciated that the site gave summaries of the fanfiction, and also liked that you could keep narrowing down by searching tags.

Quotev

quotev_logoThis is a website that many of the teens I talked with said they first started with, and seems to be the most child friendly. Many said this is where they first posted their first fanfictions that they wrote when they were 10-years-old or younger. Some say they still go there to read as it is easier to stay away from the “smut.”

One thing that I see being a big draw for teens to reading fanfiction, and the sites that seem to be the most popular are,  that it offers them the opportunity to manage their own reader’s advisory experience through filters. There is a lot of romance happening in fanfiction, and this allows them to read about very specific situations with characters they know and love. Continue reading Reading Fanfiction

Adult Books for Young Adults: Psychology & Sociology

As teens become more self-aware and motivated to learn for job training or college preparations, there are some intelligently-researched self-help/psychology books designed to get readers thinking. So while many are targeted to adults, they’re absolutely useful for the inquiring teen.

nonfiction on psychology and sociology for teens

The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Duhigg shares the mechanisms through which humans form habits and by using examples of every day habits such as smoking or exercising and he automatically gets the readers attention. The book is useful to any teen looking to make a change, little or big, by understanding routine. Not brushing twice a day? It might change after this. Continue reading Adult Books for Young Adults: Psychology & Sociology

Election Resources for Teens

Whether working in a public or an academic setting, or simply getting out in the community, yard signs and political ads bombard our lives during this election year. So how do we help teens navigate the serious issues, avoid bias, and understand the importance of voting?

By providing a variety of sources and creating an environment where teens can both ask questions in a safe environment and obtain accurate, and updated, information. In other words, we keep it professional and try to keep the teens respectful. We remain a library, a classroom, and professional. Here are some helpful election tools for your teens to learn about the election process and this year’s candidates.

Election Resources for Teens
CC image via Flickr user Michael Fleshman

 

Rock the Vote

Rock the vote is the “largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization” where teens can register to vote, demystifying the myths of what is needed to vote ahead of and on voting day for each state. Celebrities and musicals of various genres are used heavily as PR tools. The goal is to get youth to the polls.

I Side With

I Side With provides a 10 minute quiz that covers foreign policy, environmental issues, social issues, domestic policy, and more. What makes this unlike any other quiz and far better than other quizzes is the depth of each question (Tip: expand each section for additional questions so that you take the full quiz). Don’t feel pressure to know all the topics, the I Side With quiz is prepared to help the most uninformed or confused quiz taker. There is a box in which the issue is explained in a lengthy summary should you need. I was a little surprised at the small percentage difference between my results.

Ted-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing

This Ted-Ed video explains the Electoral College in a quick, informative layout of a Ted Talk.  Ted Ed offers lessons from professionals with the entertainment of animators. In this video, teens can learn the difference between the Popular Vote and the Electoral College and how different states have different levels of importance. Continue reading Election Resources for Teens

Blinded by Science: Youtubers and Podcasts to Follow

It’s Science Week!  Some feel science should just be left for homework, and for others it can totally be your jam, but science surrounds us, and it can be fascinating. Podcasts and videos can be a great way to explore your burning inquiries  whether you have just a few minutes or a whole hour to delve into a topic.

science for teens

 

YouTube-icon-full_color     SciShow Logo     Crash_Course_Youtube_logo

YouTube has some entertaining and engrossing science channels that are worthy of note, whether it be for entertainment, education, or news. Here are some channels you should know about:

SciShow

SciShow is a series of science-related videos on YouTube. The program is hosted by Hank Green of the VlogBrothers along with Michael Aranda, and has four new episodes per  week. Their weekly lineup includes (channel’s descriptions):

  • Mondays – Tune in for a short Dose about our weird world.
  • Tuesdays – Find answers to our most asked Quick Questions.
  • Wednesdays – Hank or Michael dives deep into a long-form Infusion episode, or an unscripted talk show or quiz show with a guest!
  • Fridays – Learn the latest in science News.

Also check out their sister channels SciShow Space, which posts every Tuesday and Thursday, to explore the universe and beyond. Continue reading Blinded by Science: Youtubers and Podcasts to Follow

Redefining Storytelling: A Wattpad Primer

wattpad logo

I have to admit it — I’m a Wattpad newbie. Even though this online story-sharing community has been around since 2006, it’s stayed on the edge of my radar, something I’d always planned to investigate further if I met a lot of teens who were into it. Then, I heard about Anna Todd’s After series and its beginnings as a Wattpad story with one billion — billion! — reads on the site. Clearly, readers were into Wattpad, and I needed to find out more.

In perfect timing, I read on the Hub about YALSA’s Twist Fate Challenge, a partnership with the Connected Learning Alliance, DeviantArt, National Writing Project, and Wattpad. The Feb. 18 webinar, “Storytelling and Making Redefined: Get to Know the Wattpad Community,” is available to view online, and features input from Jing Jing Tan, the Community Engagement Lead at Wattpad, as well as Kassandra Tate, a teen Wattpad user with over 21K readers.

The video is long, but an excellent overview of Wattpad’s features and teen appeal: storytelling that is multi-format, multimedia, and social. (In-line comments and chatty author’s notes erase any space between writer and reader, and comments often influence the direction of a serialized piece.) At 18:43, host (and YALSA president!) Candice Mack asks what type of support educators and libraries can provide to Wattpad users. Kassandra notes Wattpad’s ease of providing feedback and challenge exercises, and Jing Jing points out Wattpad’s untapped potential by educators as a network for consumption, collaboration, and creation. Continue reading Redefining Storytelling: A Wattpad Primer

Apps Teens Love

photo courtesy of Flickr user William Hook
photo courtesy of Flickr user William Hook

We all have our favorite social media apps. According to the 2015 Pew Center report on teens and technology, 72% of all teens spend time with friends on social media.  Of these teens, 23% do it daily.  Texting is still the top activity for teens, but messaging apps are also popular with 42% of teens using apps such as Kik and WhatsApp and 14% use these types of app every day.

Since Teen Tech Week will be celebrated March 6-12, I asked some of the youth services librarians in my area what apps the teens in their libraries are currently obsessed with. I know their tastes change pretty quickly so what’s popular now may not be popular in six months. Therefore, I was a bit surprised to find that they are using a lot of the same apps that have been popular for a while now but I also learned about some new ones too.

In my request from my colleagues, I didn’t specify what kind of app suggestions I wanted so, unsurprisingly, more of the answers fell into the texting or micro-blogging category, when what I really wanted was gaming apps. I admit I haven’t spent as much time as I probably should playing gaming apps so, a number of these were new to me, although they may not be to you.

Gaming Apps

The most frequently mentioned gaming app that seems to be all the rage right now is Stop. It’s a fun categories word game app you can play against others. You randomly select a letter to start and type a word for each of the 5 different categories that start with that letter. The player that gets most correct words wins. There are categories for Star Wars, superheroes and many others.

A number of librarians said that they and their teens were obsessed with Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, the Japanese cat collecting game. The game’s very simple. The goal is to leave food and toys in your virtual backyard to attract cats – over 40 of them – all with their own unique looks and personality. Most of the cats are ordinary cats, but there are some rare cats too, but in order to get them to come, you need to lure them with special items. I first saw a colleague playing it last year and, although I prefer dogs to cats, it looked so adorable that I began playing it too. It’s quite addictive. In Japan they’ve had live-action recreations of the game that you can watch on YouTube.

Another popular Japanese game is the free Alpaca Evolution app. I’ve never played it but it sounds fun, although very strange. You are an alpaca that mutates and consumes other alpacas. As you consume other alpacas you evolve and mutate into something stronger and stranger. Every time you evolve you get a new description of your new form. It doesn’t require a lot of skill, but it’s a lot of fun seeing what disturbing alpaca monstrosity you evolve into next. An in-game encyclopedia explains each of your new forms in bizarre detail, rating your strength and giving you a bunch of useless vital statistics.

Continue reading Apps Teens Love

Books for Fans of Urban Fantasy Anime

Urban fantasy is set in magically injected alternate universes where limousines carry lycanthropes around or suburbs conceal super-powered mages. Think Harry Potter, not The Lord of the Rings. These titles range from action adventure, to comedy, slice of life and romance. Today we will travel to alternate universes populated by warring magic users, corporate ladder climbing demons, and undersea middle school students.

Urban Fantasy Anime poster

 

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Urban Fantasy Anime Fate stay night

The Holy Grail War is a deadly competition. The winning mage has the chance to make a wish and change the world. Some masters will do anything to win this prize. Shirō Emiya has stumbled into this terrifying tournament, and he doesn’t know how to use his powers. Will he be able to survive the coming battles? Who do you trust when at the end of the tournament, you may be may be facing your closest ally?

Each master calls on a Legendary Hero to help them fight in the tournament. Most of the action takes place at night, and the darker color palate of the series leads to some jaw dropping animation of magical duels.

Note:  “Unlimited Blade Works” is based off a single storyline from the visual novel Fate Stay/Night the same name (a kind of interactive animated game, like an animated “choose your own adventure” book). There have been numerous video game, manga and light novel adaptations and spinoffs of this series, but the anime “Fate/Zero” is a prequel.  

Love this series? You will also love… Continue reading Books for Fans of Urban Fantasy Anime

Fandom 101: YouTube Musicians

Fandom 101 at The Hub

I think we can all agree that YouTube is so popular because it fosters a sense of community and togetherness that sometimes feels unprecedented and impossible. Since its arrival on the scene in 2005, YouTube has made it possible for anyone to create an account and post original content, making it easier to disseminate information and connect with like-minded viewers than ever before. It’s the perfect site for entertainment, hosting content relating to gaming, fashion, news, comedy, education, and more.

YouTube also has the peculiar reputation of being able to launch talented content creators into stardom…and ultimately a lucrative career. In particular, talented musicians can connect with and grow their fan bases, offer insight into their creation processes, and receive immediate feedback that shapes their music. In some cases, viewers financially support the music creation process, leading to album releases and tour dates for their favorite stars.

Many musicians begin by producing cover videos, in which they play music, often popular, that has already been created. They may do a straight cover or switch up the arrangement and add their own flair. Musicians typically grow their fan bases through a range of covers, anything from movie themes to pop songs to video game arrangements. Then they often move on to producing their own original music. Continue reading Fandom 101: YouTube Musicians

Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

I love horror, but sometimes I crave a little sweetness mixed in with my scary stories. If you too enjoy some cuddles with your creep-outs here are a few anime titles that you may enjoy! Continue reading Cute and Creepy Autumn Anime for Book Lovers

Fandom 101: Youtube Celebrities

Fandom 101 at The Hub

How many times have you walked by your library’s bank of computers and seen teens laughing hysterically at Youtube clips? Have you ever passed a group of teens huddling over a phone watching someone commentating a video game? Do you hear the words Nerdfighters or Brofist but you don’t know what that means? Wonder no more; it’s just Youtube celebrities.

Youtube is free and easily accessible with a mobile device so many teens watch Youtube more than TV.  Because of this, popular Youtubers have become mainstream and have even attained celebrity status.  You’ll find Youtube celebrities in commercials and movies and you’ll also find them at library/book conventions.  You might even see their face or slogans on t-shirts and other merchandise.  Who are these Youtube celebrities and why are they so popular?

Pewdiepie-Swedish Youtube with over 39 million followers.

pewdiepiePewdiepie to date has the most Youtube subscribers. (A subscriber is someone who follows a particular channel and receives email updates of that channel’s new videos.)  Pewdiepie’s channel originally featured the Youtuber making comments as he played horror-based video games.  His channel now features a daily vlog and animated videos.  Pewdiepie ends many of his videos with a brofist which is simply a fist bump. Pewdiepie has a new book and has been a guest on Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Continue reading Fandom 101: Youtube Celebrities