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.
President Reagan's Speech at the Brandenburg Gate
President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan delivers this famous speech imploring General Secretary Gorbachev to take down the Berlin Wall and reunite Germany.
Titanic Officer Swears Wreck Due to Company's Neglect
United Press Leased Wire
A newspaper excerpt about the Titanic details some of the controversy surrounding why the ship sank.
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.
Excerpt from 'Susan B. Anthony, The Woman'
Journalist Susan Dare interviews Susan B. Anthony and describes the life of this famous women’s rights activist.
Margaret Garner: Defying the Fugitive Slave Act
Abolitionist Levi Coffin recounts the story of Margaret Garner, a fugitive slave who killed her children rather than see them returned to slavery.
Articles of Confederation
The Continental Congress
The Articles of Confederation was an agreement between the original 13 states of the United States and preceded the Constitution.
President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points
President Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points” were a statement of Wilson’s beliefs about how to bring an end to World War I and to prevent war in the future.
Red Cloud's Speech after Wounded Knee
Chief Red Cloud
Oglala Lakota leader Red Cloud’s remarks following the Wounded Knee Massacre recall the years of false promises made and mistreatment shown to the American Indian people by the U.S. federal government.
General Eisenhower’s Order of the Day
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
In this note from World War II, General Eisenhower encourages his troops to defeat the enemy on the eve of the Invasion of Normandy.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
General Assembly of the United Nations
In this historic document, the crime of genocide is defined, as is the punishment and prevention of it.
The Gettysburg Address
President Abraham Lincoln
In his eminently famous Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln reflects on the nature of the United States and represents the Civil War as a solemn struggle for freedom and equality.
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.
Letter to the Treasurer of Spain
Upon arriving to the island "Juana" - or present-day Cuba - Italian explorer Christopher Columbus writes to the benefactor of his voyage about the rich landscape and curious people he encounters in this promising new territory.
Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
Jefferson makes the argument for religious freedom in the United States.
A Letter to Thomas Jefferson
President John Adams
This letter captures the famous ongoing debate between Jefferson and Adams about core democratic principles.
Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
This document, signed by 100 people at the first women's rights convention, was controversial in its time.
Andrew Jackson's Speech to Congress on 'Indian Removal'
President Andrew Jackson
The president announces the "benevolent" initiative to remove Native Americans from their homelands.
The Emancipation Proclamation
President Abraham Lincoln
This famous document made abolishing slavery an explicit goal of the Civil War.