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.
Want to Get Into College? Learn to Fail
Angel B. Pérez
A dean of admissions dispels the myth that students should showcase perfection on a college application, and explores the relationship between past failures and college success.
Sir Francis Bacon
In this essay, Sir Francis Bacon discusses the importance of pursuing knowledge.
Should We Terraform Mars?
Paul Scott Anderson
Paul Scott Anderson discusses whether or not humans should attempt to alter Mars to be habitable for humans.
The Leaders Who Ruined Africa and the Generation Who Can Fix It
In this TED Talk, Fred Swaniker discusses leadership in Africa and his hopes for future leaders.
The Curse Of The Inability To Imagine
Tania Lombrozo for NPR
This article questions whether it is possible to accurately understand the past or imagine the future due to present-day technology.
The Danger of a Single Story
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses the impact stories can have in constructing our understanding of the world and people.
A Quick Note on Getting Better at Difficult Things
Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses how to get better at a new or difficult skill and shares his own experiences.
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.
Excerpt from Honky
Sociologist Dalton Conley reflects in this excerpt from his book on his status as a white middle-class man having grown up in a lower-income community of color.
On the Reverence Due Father- and Mother-in-Law
China’s first female historian Zhao Ban advises women on the proper way to treat their in-laws.
On Reverencing the Husband
China’s first female historian Zhao Ban instructs women on proper behavior toward their husbands.
On Reverence for Parents
These ancient guidelines for the behavior of young women speak to the centrality of deference to one’s parents in traditional Chinese culture.
On the Cultivation of Virtue, Woman’s Work, and Politeness
This first-century text written by China’s first female historian shares some of the principles that women should follow to serve their husbands.
The Space Race is Over
This opinion piece examines the collective fear of the future and related resurgent concept of space colonization.
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.
I Am Very Real
When a North Dakota school board burned copies of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut responded with a letter arguing against censorship.
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.
The Plea for Eight Hours
Labor union leader Terence Powderly makes a reasoned argument in favor of reducing the work day for laborers.
Opposition to the Women's Rights Movement
This piece was written as a rebuttal to Dr. Dewey, who, in defense of women’s rights, denied Biblical justification for the subjugation of women.