Sample Reading Lists

Common Core English Standards: Sample Reading Assignments

Here is a quick explanation and some examples of what students may be expected to read throughout elementary, middle and high school under the higher English standards:

Common Core State Standards provide a heavy focus – at least 50 percent – on the reading and comprehension of great American and English literature classics. Examples of these may include, depending on the curriculum or teacher’s lesson plan, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice.

Students will also be required to read more informational texts and non-fiction original work than before.  Examples include: Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America or President Ronald Reagan’s “Address to Students at Moscow State University.” This is to prepare students for college and real world reading and writing requirements.  For example, 80 percent of the reading and writing done in the workplace requires individuals to read material, analyze it and be able to articulate and respond to key elements in the material.

The only specific texts the Common Core English Standards actually mention as required reading for students in K-12 are these landmark American historical documents: the Declaration of Independence; the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

Remember: Common Core does not dictate what lesson plans, programs or textbooks teachers will use for curriculum, but here are some sample books and reading material that would meet the expectations set in the Common Core English Standards:



  •  “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost (Grades 2 – 3)
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Grades 4 – 5)
  • The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley (Grades 4 – 5)
  • Little Women, by Louisa Alcott (Grades 6 – 8)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain (Grades 6 – 8)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Grades 9 – 10)
  • The Odyssey, by Homer (Grades 9 – 10)
  • The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (Grades 11 – 12)
  • A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway (Grades 11 – 12)

Informational Texts and Original Non-Fiction:


  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, by Brian Floca (Grades 2 – 3)
  • “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Address to Parliament on May 13th, 1940,” by Sir Winston Churchill (Grades 6 – 8)
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck (Grades 6 – 8)
  • “Farewell Address,” by President George Washington (Grades 9 – 10)
  • “Address to Students at Moscow State University,” by President Ronald Reagan (Grades 9 – 10)
  • 1776, by David McCullough (Grades 11 – 12)
  • Common Sense, by Thomas Paine (Grades 11 – 12)