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 “Civil Disobedience”
Henry David Thoreau
This excerpt from Thoreau's famous essay meditates on the necessity of following one’s own conscience, even if it conflicts with the law.
“Three Types of Friendship” — Excerpt from The Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle describes three different types of friendship and which is the most valuable.
Sir Francis Bacon
In this essay, Sir Francis Bacon discusses the importance of pursuing knowledge.
Ancient Greek thinkers have influenced Western culture and philosophy for centuries.
The Two Brothers
Two brothers trying to live charitably react very differently when they stumble into a fortune.
Allegory of the Cave
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a piece of philosophy explaining the importance of knowledge in society and for the human soul.
Excerpt from Spirit of Laws
Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu
In these satiric excerpts from Montesquieu’s political theory, the philosopher reflects on the origins of slavery and inequality.
On the Reverence Due Father- and Mother-in-Law
China’s first female historian Zhao Ban advises women on the proper way to treat their in-laws.
On Reverencing the Husband
China’s first female historian Zhao Ban instructs women on proper behavior toward their husbands.
On Reverence for Parents
These ancient guidelines for the behavior of young women speak to the centrality of deference to one’s parents in traditional Chinese culture.
On the Cultivation of Virtue, Woman’s Work, and Politeness
This first-century text written by China’s first female historian shares some of the principles that women should follow to serve their husbands.
Anger as Inspiration
Humanitarian and activist Sami Awad describes how he channels anger to create a commitment to peace.
Fear Is Simple and Profound
Julia Butterfly Hill
Julia Butterfly Hill uses an extended metaphor to explain how fear hinders people from “trusting the great mystery within.”
On the Doctrine of the Feeling of Power
In this passage, Nietzsche explains how the "feeling of power" drives all humans.
Excerpt from "Self Reliance"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson expounds his Transcendentalist beliefs about individuality and nonconformity.
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.
Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature
In his essay, the Scottish philosopher discusses how one should approach the question of whether man is inherently good or evil.
Excerpt from Walden: “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”
Henry David Thoreau
In this excerpt from Walden, Thoreau explains why he went to live alone in the wilderness.
This excerpt from Aristotle's famous work "Poetics" proposes a definition of the perfect tragedy.