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.
Ruth Spencer Johnson
A black girl in Montgomery, Alabama writes to her cousin about people’s refusal to use the bus as a form of protest.
Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery
In this historical text, Benjamin Franklin issues a plea to the United States government.
The St. Petersburg Workmen's Petition to the Tsar, January 22, 1905
George Gapon describes life for workmen to the Tsar of Russia in 1905.
George W. Harkins to the American People
George W. Harkins
In an open letter to the American people, Choctaw chief George W. Harkins expresses his opinion about the Indian removals.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., outlines his nonviolence approach to addressing injustice while responding to criticism.
Letter from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman
Frederick Douglass writes a letter to Harriet Tubman praising her work in the abolitionist movement.
Excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s Writings on American Indians
These excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s writings reveal his complicated views of American Indians and their future in America.
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.
Manifest Destiny, I Do Believe
In this letter, missionary and pioneer Cordelia writes of her bold plans to travel west and "civilize" the Indians.
The author laments his inability to understand his paramour while eloquently reveling in the feelings that her nature evokes in him.
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.
I Am Very Real
When a North Dakota school board burned copies of Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut responded with a letter.
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.
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.
A Letter to Thomas Jefferson
This letter features the famous debate between Jefferson and Adams about core democratic principles.
Letters from Wilbur Wright
It took an extraordinary amount of persistence, commitment, and attention to detail for Orville and Wilbur Wright to design and launch the first successful airplane.