English Reading Practice

Moral Story Number 16:
Be Industrious

1. Watch the video at the top of the page.

2. Read the story "Be Industrious" just below it.

3. Do the exercises at the bottom of the page.

Here is the Be Industrious video. You can watch it in your own language at The Way to Happiness Foundation. (Simply click the word "language" at the top right corner of that page.) 

The Way to Happiness is a common sense guide to better living which has been distributed to more than 100 million people in over 100 languages. It describes 21 principles to a better quality of life.

Principle number 16 is "Be Industrious."

To be i
ndustrious means to actively and purposefully getting things done.

Now read the short story about this important principle.

Be Industrious

Barry is a middle-aged man who is going through a very difficult time in his life. His wife recently passed away. She and Barry had many happy years together, sharing their free time and even starting a business together. Without his wife, Barry is full of sorrow and feels that life is pointless. He even decides to close their business because working there makes him miss her too much.

Even months later, Barry sits around in his house all day feeling gloomy. His friends and family try to get him out of the house and encourage him to start doing new things and enjoy life, but they are not successful.

Barry's neighbor, a very old woman named Gertrude, sees him from her yard one day as he steps out onto his porch. She has not seen him outside in days! She asks him to come closer. Irritated, he walks to the fence that protects the front of her house.

"Hello, Barry! Just look at this fence. I only had it put in two years ago, but it is falling apart. You are a strong man, and you have some free time. I want you to fix this fence for me," Gertrude says.

Barry is angry. She knows the situation he is in. He is the one who needs help and support. He thinks the old lady is being very selfish. Still, he knows she is too old to fix the fence herself, and they have been neighbors for years. She is a nice woman, and he respects her. He agrees to fix her fence because it is really not safe for her to have it broken like that.

Barry works on the fence for days. Gertrude brings him lemonade while he works. When he finishes, she is very grateful. Barry smiles for the first time in months.

"Now that you did such a wonderful job fixing my fence, do you think you could paint it for me?" Gertrude smiles at him.

Barry cannot believe she is asking for more help. Doesn't she know how sad he is? But because he respects her so much, Barry agrees. He works hard painting the fence in the hot sun, but Gertrude's lemonade and encouragement are wonderful. He feels proud of the beautiful fence he is making.

Over the next few weeks, Gertrude keeps giving Barry jobs. He repairs her door and even builds a beautiful patio with wooden furniture for her. As they sit there and drink lemonade, all the neighbors pass by and tell Berry what a beautiful job he has done. He and Gertrude cannot stop smiling.

Barry no longer feels that life is pointless. He feels proud of his work and useful to Gertrude. And he is still young, he thinks. Barry decides he will become a carpenter! He thanks Gertrude. He finally realizes that she was never being rude, she is really very wise. She knew that sorrow can be eased by simply getting busy at something. He helped her, but she truly saved him.

And now, practice:


Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "industrious" mean?

a) actively and purposefully getting things done

b) doing things just because you have to

c) waiting a long time before starting to do things

d) making lists of the things you have to do

2. What does "sorrow" mean?

a) boredom

b) confusion

c) great sadness

d) anger

3. What does "encouragement" mean?

a) doing and saying things to make someone feel more hopeful

b) helping a person with your knowledge

c) doing a task for someone else

d) helping someone to pay for something

Grammar Questions

1. Barry is going ________ a very difficult time.

a) about

b) for

c) to

d) through

2. Gertrude keeps ________ Barry jobs.

a) to give

b) gave

c) given

d) giving

3. Barry works ________ the fence for days.

a) for

b) on

c) to

d) from

Comprehension Questions

1. How does Barry feel at the beginning of the story?
2. How does Gertrude help him overcome his sorrow?
3. In your opinion, why is it important to be industrious?

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