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.
“Help Him Up!”: A Witness’s Account of Panic on a Subway Platform
A reporter describes witnesses’ reactions to a man falling onto New York City subway tracks.
Shooting an Elephant
A British officer must decide whether or not to shoot an elephant that has become aggressive.
Excerpt from “Nature”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson discusses his appreciation for nature.
Excerpt from Walden: “The Ponds”
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau describes Walden Pond.
The Unspoken History Behind a Surname
Lolly Bowean discusses the history behind African American surnames.
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.
Queen Esther and Me
Amalia Hoffman describes the origins and celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim.
Can Television Be Considered Literature and Taught in English Classes?
Shelby Ostergaard discusses the potential benefits and disadvantages of using television for teaching.
Excerpt from The Harvest Gypsies
John Steinbeck discusses the role of migrant workers in California’s agriculture industry.
On Various Kinds of Thinking
James Harvey Robinson
James Harvey Robinson discusses different types of thinking and why it is important to challenge accepted truths.
Excerpt from “Our America”
José Martí discusses leadership in Latin American nations.
Excerpt from A Room of One’s Own
The speaker describes how the experiences of women pursuing the arts differ from those of men.
A speaker describes taking his nephew for a walk in the forest.
Sir Francis Bacon
In this essay, Sir Francis Bacon discusses the importance of pursuing knowledge.
On the Education of Youth in America
Noah Webster discusses the importance of educating young citizens for the success of America.
Will We ‘Fix’ The Weather? Yes. Should We Fix The Weather? Hmmm
A prominent journalist discusses the opinions of climate scientists about using technology to control the earth’s climate.
To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice
Famous minister and abolitionist Richard Allen implores slave-owners and pro-slavery advocates to reconsider their stances.
In My Mom's Shoes
Kat Chow reflects on losing her mother and the experience of walking in her mother’s old shoes.
Julia Alvarez discusses the multiple names she has been given over the years.