A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Warrior Cats is a site designed around a book series. Although books and other items from the Warriors series are available for purchase, users aren't pressured to buy things, and they don't have to register, unless they want to comment with emoticons and use the site's spoiler filter feature. There are some mentions of characters dying, but the Warriors book series was written for younger readers, so the site has made an effort to keep its content very kid-friendly. It doesn't allow videos that might lead kids to YouTube, and users can't write comments or contact each other. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content on the site.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
The fan-focused WARRIOR CATS website offers brief descriptions of the clans, cats, and titles in the Warriors book series. Kids can also view a family tree that maps out character connections, read about the writers who together penned the titles under a pseudonym, find out how the series started, and view illustrations submitted by readers. Registered users can choose an emoticon to comment on art and indicate which books they've read to prevent seeing any spoilers from ones they haven't. The site also sells clan-related merchandise.
Is it any good?
The site was clearly designed with fans of the Warriors series in mind; kids probably won't be too interested in the site content if they haven't read any of the books. Kids who have, though, may not be too wowed by Warrior Cats either, because the book, clan, and cat descriptions are so brief. The site offers some author information, quotes, illustrations, and a few videos created by users and the site. There's also a few plot and character polls, and quizzes are available, as well as a family tree that offers a look at how clan members interconnect. The site images aren't too dynamic, though; due to image sizes on the site, the names can be a little difficult to read, and only a few items seem to link to character pages.
The site has done an admirable job of factoring safety into its structure: Kids can't connect with strangers, users can't post written comments, and any videos that might allow kids to click through to YouTube, where they could come across adult content, aren't allowed. In addition, registered users can specify the last series or book they've finished to block content from titles that were published later and might reveal spoilers. Series merchandise isn't marketed much outside of an online store and through links on the book description pages to the publisher's site, which lists several online stores where the books are sold. Since there isn't a ton of engaging content on the site, and since one of its five site sections is a store, Warrior Cats ends up feeling more like a promotional tool for the book series than an online information hub for fans. Adding more book and character background information and interactive elements would help make it a more valuable resource for readers -- and potentially convince kids who aren't familiar with the series to check it out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how people interact in a group. Can your child compare a real-world situation to some of the clan issues described on the site? How can groups resolve conflict?
What's an objective your child can break down into segments to complete this month, or year? How can this help your child accomplish his or her own goals?
Use the brief book descriptions on the site to talk about storytelling principles. Reading through the summaries for all the books in a series, can your child get a sense of where the plot is going, and how the characters are evolving?
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