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 Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases
Ida B. Wells
This excerpt discusses the injustice and horrors of Southern lynch laws, focusing especially on the violence enacted against African Americans following the Civil War and Reconstruction Era.
President Kennedy's Inaugural Address
President John F. Kennedy
In his inaugural address, President Kennedy discusses his vision for leading the United States and its allies through the Cold War.
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.
Senator Nixon's “Checkers” Speech
Senator Richard M. Nixon
In this speech, Vice Presidential candidate Richard Nixon masters rhetoric to defend charges of corruption in his campaign and to defend Dwight Eisenhower’s bid for the presidency.
Richard Nixon’s Resignation Speech
President Richard M. Nixon
In this speech, President Nixon explains that he is resigning from the office of president for the good of the American people.
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.
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.
President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama
President Obama gives his 2015 State of the Union address, in which he discusses economic recovery and fairness.
The American Electoral Process
The United States Electoral College is a complex system. Learn how it came to be, and how it affects the way in which U.S. citizens are governed.
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.
On Disability Rights: Highlights from Speeches by Ed Roberts
Roberts, a pioneering leader in the disability rights movement, speaks about his experience fighting for education and accessibility for people with disabilities.
On the Doctrine of the Feeling of Power
In this passage, Nietzsche explains how the "feeling of power" drives all humans.
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.
Excerpt from 'On Drought Conditions'
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
FDR addresses the “Dust Bowl” problem of the 1930s—during which severe drought and erosion conditions led to a prolonged agricultural crisis.
Speech on Slavery
Lincoln makes a case for free labor over "the great curse" of slavery.
From 'A Time for Choosing' Speech
In this famous speech, Reagan argues for "the maximum of individual freedom."
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.
Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
Jefferson makes the argument for religious freedom in the United States.
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.