CommonLit The Library
CommonLit is a free collection of fiction and nonfiction for 3rd-12th grade classrooms. Search and filter our collection by lexile, grade, theme, genre, literary device, or common core standard.
Excerpt from "Self-Reliance"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson expounds his Transcendentalist beliefs about individuality and nonconformity.
The Elephant's Child
An insatiably curious baby elephant goes on a journey to find the crocodile — an encounter that will change him forever.
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Excerpt from Chapter 11
In chapter 11, Douglass describes his escape from slavery, and the challenges he faced upon becoming a free man.
America and I
A new immigrant tells of her struggles trying to achieve the American dream.
The War Works Hard
In this satirical poem, a speaker remarks on the impressive diligence of war and its effects, from "provid[ing] food for flies" to "invigorat[ing] the coffin makers."
Fifth Grade Autobiography
Inspired by an old photo, a child revisits early memories.
Morality as Anti-Nature
In this excerpt from the book Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche seeks to challenge, unravel and completely do away with the moral notions of his day.
Dr. Heidegger's Experiment
An eccentric doctor administers drinks from the Fountain of Youth to four miserable old friends.
Conservation as a National Duty
President Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt argues that we have a moral imperative to conserve our diminishing supply of natural resources.
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
A man speculates on the lives of the dead — and what may be said of him, after death — as he walks through a country churchyard.
What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
The famous ex-slave and abolitionist points out the hypocrisy of "the home of the free" on Independence Day.
Advice to the Newly Married Lady
Samuel K. Jennings
A doctor and preacher from the 19th century advises new wives to always defer to their husbands.
In this poem, a speaker longingly describes a city scene from which he feels isolated.
The Plea for Eight Hours
Labor union leader Terence Powderly makes a reasoned argument in favor of reducing the work day for laborers.
Robert Louis Stevenson
In this whimsical poem, Stevenson describes the adventures he will have in his youth - adventures that will sustain him when he is old.
Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
This document, signed by 100 people at the first women's rights convention, was controversial in its time.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In this poem, Longfellow compares death to a mother leading her reluctant child to bed.
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A 19th century woman struggles to maintain her sanity in the confines of a yellow room.
If We Must Die
A Harlem Renaissance poet discusses facing death and other obstacles with courage and dignity.