Why read stories about the juvenile justice system?

Most students are not going to get locked up…ever.

Ever, ever, ever…ever

And that’s a good thing.

However, reading about life on the inside allows students to study an important Idea Worth Teaching.


There are several components to this unit (which comes in the form of a downloadable PDF).

For each story you will find the following:

  • Pre-Reading Questions.  These questions set the stage for the story.
  • Text.  The story comes in the form of a printable PDF.  Students can print and read the story or read it on screen.
  • Post-Reading Questions.  These questions provide an opportunity to reflect upon the ideas worth teaching from the story.

NOTE: There are no answers provided for the Pre-Reading Questions or the Post-Reading Questions.

For each component, you can approach the work in whatever way is most convenient and/or agreeable to you.  For example, for the Pre-Reading Questions, you can download and print the Pre-Reading questions, and then write your answers on the printed page.  Or you can write your answers in your writing notebook.

For each story, there are several ways that you can interact with the text.  You can read the short story on your screen, or you can download and print the short story and then read the hard copy.

My recommendation is to print a copy of the story so that you can underline important passages as you read.

Locked Up contains the following short stories:

Title: The Test

Idea Worth Teaching: Courage

Word Count: 1,431 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: fiction

Summary: How are you going to survive on the inside of a maximum-security juvenile correctional facility? Especially when someone decides to target you. Do you fight back? Do you ignore the threats? Ask for help? Brian is in uncharted territory. He only knows one thing – he wants to be free.


Title: Long Term

Idea Worth Teaching: Reading

Word Count: 1,353 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: fiction

Summary: The short story Long Term is about two young men inside a correctional facility. One of them has just been released from long term segregation, and he tries to explain to the other what kept him from losing his sanity. Books.


Title: Proper Value

Idea Worth Teaching: Freedom

Word Count: 765 words

Reading Level: secondary

Idea Worth Teaching: Freedom

Genre: fiction

Summary: What would you be willing to do in order to earn your freedom?  How much do you value your freedom?  For some people, freedom doesn’t mean as much to them as their pride.  And one young man is willing to pay a steep price for pride.


Title: The Letter

Idea Worth Teaching: Writing

Word Count: 875 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: fiction

Summary: The idea of writing – communicating our thoughts through symbols – is one of the most important ideas worth teaching. Sometimes the thoughts that are communicated through writing are mundane – a shopping list. But other times, something as simple as a handwritten letter can have a profound impact on the life of another.


Title: Only One of Us…

Idea Worth Teaching: Truth

Word Count: 1,674 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: fiction

Summary: The short story Only One of Us… is about two friends who happen to be outcasts. There is, however, a striking difference between the two of them, and one of them doesn’t want to hear the truth.