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.
PLESSY NEARS ITS END
The New York Times
Sixty years after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, an author evaluates the state of racial segregation in the United States.
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.
Queens of the Spy World Whose Intrigues Sway the Fate of Nations
This article discusses the legendary women of the spy world and their contributions to the countries they served in wartime.
Conflicting News Reports on the Fate of the Sinking Titanic
The two excerpts from two different newspapers were both written about the Titanic the day it sank.
Reports from the Ruins of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
Two newspaper articles discuss the despair and hope following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Excerpt from Democracy in America: Why Americans Are So Restless
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville discusses the effectiveness of America’s democratic system.
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.
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.
Assassination of the President
On April 14, 1965, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at the Ford Theatre. Lincoln would die the following day.
A Participant’s First-Hand Account of the Boston Tea Party
A participant in the Boston Tea Party describes his role in the famous event.
Austrian Heir and Wife Shot to Death After Escaping Bombing
The Washington Herald
Two articles from The Washington Herald discuss the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.
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.
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.
Last Diary Entry of John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth
In his final diary entry, John Wilkes Booth justifies his assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and wonders at his fate.
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.
The Wounded Knee Massacre
This informational text discusses the events leading up to, during, and after the violent encounter between the Sioux and the U.S. Army at the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
From Slaves to Sharecroppers
This collection of three primary texts from the Reconstruction Era reveal the difficult decisions that freed slaves faced as sharecroppers.