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Social justice leaders in YA fiction: questions and activities

Staff  |  28 May 2020

In recent editions we've looked at how fictional characters have demonstrated – whether they know it or not – the teachings of the Catholic Church. See Social justice leaders in YA fiction (Autumn 2020) and Playlist: Imagining a better world (Winter 2020); and take part in the following questions and activities.


  • Are there any movies or books that have been influential on you? In what way? What made it so striking for you? Can you identify what it was about the scenes or characters that made such an impression?
  • Can you think of other Dr Seuss titles that have deeper meaning? (Hint: Australian Catholics has previously covered one.)
  • For the past couple of months life has looked different in Australia with stay at home orders. It has been a stressful time, but has there been anything from that time you want to keep doing as the world opens up again? How do you imagine a better world.


Consider a movie or a book that has been influential on how you see the world, or which you think has an important message for society. Choose one of the following activities:

a) Reflect on how the principles of Catholic Social Teaching are present in that film. Write a blog article or create a video blog, highlighting how the book or film could help young people like yourself learn about the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

b) Can you think of a story from the Bible that explores a similar situation to the story from the book or movie that you've chosen? If so, write a brief comparison between the way people react in the Biblical story, and the way people react in the fictional story. If not, place Jesus into one of the important scenes. Write a brief article outlining how you think Jesus might react in that situation compared to how the characters react.

c) Write a creative piece, imagining that you’re a person in a position of authority in the world of the book or film that you’ve chosen. Imagine how you would go about creating a better world if you were in that situation. You could write your account as a short story, or even a play that could be performed with your peers.


Read or summarise Social justice leaders in YA fiction and Playlist: Imagining a better world. Discuss with the class stories they have heard, or movies or cartoons that they have seen that talk about caring for each other or the environment.

Activity: Yarn-Web Prayer

The purpose of this activity is to show our solidarity and need to be concerned for one another.

You will need a large ball of wool or string for this activity.

  • Find a place where the children can sit in one large circle on the floor. Ask them to recall someone or something in our world that concerns them and to think of a short prayer that they could share with the group about their concern.
  • Remind the children that all people are brothers and sisters, and we have a responsibility to care for one another. Tell the children that today in our prayer we will express visibly our belief that we are all dependent on one another and connected to everyone in the world.
  • Pick up the ball of wool and begin by sharing your own prayer with the group. Wait a few seconds and then, holding on to the end of the yarn, unroll several feet of it and pass the ball to a child in the circle. As you do so, ask him or her to share his or her prayer.
  • When the child has shared his or her prayer, have him or her wrap the yarn once around either wrist and then pass the ball to another child.
  • Repeat the process and continue passing the ball of yarn until all the children have had a chance to share their prayers and the ball of yarn returns to you.
  • Conclude the prayer by praying together slowly the Lord’s Prayer.


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