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.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
United Nations General Assembly
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by United Nations and describes an individual’s rights.
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.
Excerpt from “Our America”
José Martí discusses leadership in Latin American nations.
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.
If Not Threats of War or Sanctions, Then What?
Scholars of international politics discuss what it means to deal politically with other nations and maintain these friendships—or at least, to get what your country wants.
Excerpt from The Prince
Machiavelli discussed the value of cruelty and how it can be used to retain power.
Excerpts from Leviathan
This book established the concept of the "social contract."