CommonLit is a free collection of fiction and nonfiction for 5th-12th grade classrooms. Search and filter our collection by lexile, grade, theme, genre, literary device, or common core standard.
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.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., outlines his nonviolence approach to addressing injustice while responding to criticism.
The Supreme Court’s Ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education
U.S. Supreme Court
In this pivotal Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren describes the necessity of desegregating American public schools.
Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference” Speech
A Holocaust survivor discusses the consequences of acting indifferently towards human suffering.
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.
President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
President Abraham Lincoln
President Lincoln discusses the Civil War and the future of the nation in his second inaugural address.
First Lady Hillary Clinton’s Address to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women
First Lady Hillary Clinton
In this speech, First Lady Hillary Clinton tells the United Nations that women’s rights are human rights.
Excerpt from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
In this excerpt from his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin discusses his efforts to better himself by training different virtues.
RFK’s Speech Following the Death of MLK
Senator Robert F. Kennedy
In this speech, Senator Robert F. Kennedy encourages the nation to unite and heal following Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
Washington's Farewell Address
President George Washington
In this letter written by Washington to the American people, the United States' first president explains his intent to decline a third term in office, leaving the nation with some final thoughts on unity, power, and freedom.
Why I Refuse to Say I 'Fight' My Disability
In this article, Hitselberger takes issue with the language sometimes used around the issue of dealing with one’s disability.
Sir Francis Bacon
In this passage, Bacon discusses the notion of revenge, why some seek it, and the consequences of this fixation.
On the Doctrine of the Feeling of Power
In this passage, Nietzsche explains how the "feeling of power" drives all humans.
I Am Very Real
When a North Dakota school board burned copies of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut responded with a letter arguing against censorship.
Letter from Mary Mallon: On Being ‘Typhoid Mary’
In the early 1900s, an Irish immigrant cook was accused of infecting dozens of her clients with typhoid fever - although she herself had no symptoms - and quarantined against her will until her death.
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.
Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Du Bois
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois
These two excerpts capture the ideological debate about black social mobility after the Civil War.
Speech on Slavery
Lincoln makes a case for free labor over "the great curse" of slavery.