English Reading Practice

Moral Story Number 9:
Don't Do Anything Illegal

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

2. Read the story "Don't Do Anything Illegal" just below it.

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

Here is the Don't Do Anything Illegal 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 9 is "Don't Do Anything Illegal."

Now read the short story about this important principle.

Don't Do Anything Illegal

Jared is dating a wonderful new girl named Allison, and he really wants to impress her. After a couple of times meeting each other for coffee, Jared invites Allison out to a movie. When he picks her up in his car, she asks why he doesn't put in his seatbelt. Jared laughs and says that seatbelts are silly.

"But it's the law," Allison replies. "You can get a ticket from the police if you don't wear your seatbelt, and the law is there to protect you. I'm sorry, but I won't go with you unless you put on your seatbelt."

Jared is surprised, but he agrees to wear his seatbelt. He does not want to give Allison a bad impression, even if he thinks that he should not have to follow the law in his own car. 

After a few more dates, Jared wants to give Allison a special gift. While walking around a department store, he sees a beautiful pair of gold earrings. He knows Allison would love them, but they cost more money than Jared has at the moment.

Looking up, he sees that the cashier at the jewelry desk is busy with another customer. He has his back to Jared. Taking the amazing opportunity, Jared grabs the earrings and hides them in his coat pocket.

As he walks out of the store, Jared tells himself that a very rich person must own the department store. That person will never miss the earrings, but he will feel so good giving them to Allison.

On his next date with Allison, he gives her the earrings. She absolutely loves them and gives him a big hug.

"Oh, Jared!" she exclaims. "They are just beautiful. And look, they are real gold! This gift really means a lot to me since I know you worked lots of hours to earn enough money to buy these, didn't you?"

Jared looks at her quietly. He sees she begins to suspect. "Of course, honey," he finally answers.

Jared can only smile uncomfortably. He feels like he is lying to Allison. But he knows she does not like people who break the law. Every time he sees her wearing her beautiful earrings, he feels guilt and shame mixed with his happiness. Why can't he just enjoy being with her? Why do those earrings make him so uncomfortable?

One Friday afternoon, Allison and Jared are having coffee together. They decide to leave the café and go to the park, but Allison says she needs to visit the ladies' room first. As he waits for her, Jared notices that all the waiters are busy. He quietly leaves the café without paying and waits for Allison on the sidewalk. When she comes out the door, she gives him a big smile and takes his hand.

"Sir! Sir!" they suddenly hear someone shouting. Turning around, they see that their waiter has come running out of the restaurant. "Sir, I think you forgot to leave the money on the table. You cannot leave without paying." He looks at Jared suspiciously.

Allison is very embarrassed, but Jared feels even worse. He goes back into the café, pays their bill, and apologizes. When he comes back out onto the sidewalk, Allison looks upset.

"I like you, Jared, but I cannot go out with someone who breaks the law," Allison says. "If you do not respect the law, how can you respect others, or even yourself? And what if the police catch you doing something illegal? This just feels too dishonest. I'm sorry, but I don't want to see you anymore."

As Allison walks away, Jared understands why the gold earrings made him feel guilty. He will not be able to really enjoy anything he has stolen, and if he breaks the law, he will always be afraid of getting caught. After losing a wonderful person like Allison, Jared realizes that he needs to change his behavior and not do anything illegal. 

And now, practice:


Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "illegal" mean?

a) something that is against the law

b) something that is not healthy

c) something that you cannot do outside your own home

d) something that is very impolite

2. What does "shame" mean?

a) a feeling of happiness

b) a feeling of physical discomfort

c) a feeling of guilt, regret, or embarrassment

d) a feeling of anger

3. What does "apologize" mean?

a) to explain why something is incorrect

b) to say you are sorry

c) to defend your actions

d) to have a debate with someone

Grammar Questions

1. You ________ get a ticket from the police if you don't wear your seatbelt.

a) would

b) must

c) do

d) can

2. This just feels ________ dishonest.

a) too much

b) much

c) too

d) muchly

3. ________ his next date with Allison, he gives her the earrings.

a) In

b) On

c) At

d) Of

Comprehension Questions

1. What does Allison ask Jared to do on their first date in his car?
2. Why does Allison decide she cannot go out with Jared anymore?
3. In your opinion, why is it important not to do anything illegal?

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