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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.
That Evening Sun
Young Quentin wonders why Nancy, the black washerwoman, is afraid of her husband in this Southern Gothic story.
The Byzantine Empire
This informational text discusses the history, power, and influence of the Eastern Roman Empire, or the Byzantine Empire.
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.
Excerpts from Roughing It
Twain recounts his time looking for work in the West in this semi-autobiographical, comic travelogue.
Here We Aren't, So Quickly
Jonathan Safran Foer
In this avant-garde short story, a man reflects on his life and his relationship with his family.
Once Upon a Time
A family in South Africa tries to protect their home from intruders and live happily ever after.
The Coming on of Night
This short poem describes the speaker’s peace with the inevitability of death.
Excerpt from Democracy in America: Why Americans Are So Restless
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville discusses the effectiveness of America’s democratic system.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
In this poem, a speaker describes losing a part of themselves.
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Gabriel García Márquez
In this short story, an old man with wings crashes into a family’s yard and is exploited by the family and townspeople.
South African Apartheid
South Africa’s racist policy of “apartheid” was used to separate and discriminate against non-white South Africans.
‘Why Sit Here and Die’ Speech
Maria W. Stewart
Maria W. Stewart speaks to the New England Anti-Slavery Society about the status and rights of African Americans.
How Resilience Works
Diane Coutu discusses the three main characteristics of resilience.
Why Did the Mayan Civilization Collapse?
New evidence shows that environmental factors may have contributed to the collapse of the Maya civilization.
The Man of the Crowd
Edgar Allan Poe
An unnamed narrator spots a man in a crowd, and follows this mysterious man throughout the crowded streets of London.
The Masque of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe
Safe inside his home from the disease ravaging the country, Prince Prospero throws an extravagant party for his esteemed friends, only to receive an unexpected guest: Death himself.
'Enemies from Within' Speech
Senator Joseph McCarthy
In Senator Joseph McCarthy’s most famous speech, he condemns the threat of communism and accuses the state department of communist infiltration.
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.