Common Core Standards & Reading List

What are the Common Core Standards?

Educational standards describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade. In California, the State Board of Education decides on the standards for all students, from kindergarten through high school. The California Department of Education helps schools make sure that all students are meeting the standards.

Four Creative Ways to Teach the Common Core with Public Media
August 31, 2012, 10:02 am Posted by Matthew Green

Here are four central components of the CCSS for English-Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, and examples of how KQED media can be used to to address them.

1. Emphasis on informational text 

The CCSS places a heavy emphasis on reading nonfiction and informational text. Students are required to "integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually." From regularly updated radio and TV-based news coverage and analysis to in-depth scientific, artistic, and historical explorations, KQED and PBS LearningMedia's multi-platform digital library provides an abundant supply of compelling multimedia and writing examples that directly align to these standards. Let's say, for instance, you're teaching Shakespeare's Macbeth. Why not use a video clip and article from PBS LearningMedia about a school where actors go to brush up on their contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare's works?

2. The focus on argument

The CCSS requires that students read to "delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text" as well as to write their own arguments to "support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or text." KQED News is chock full of provocative issues likely to inspire student reactions and perspectives. For instance, you could use video clips, audio, and transcripts from Prison Break - a recently aired KQED-produced radio and TV series about California's troubled prison system. Students can then examine different viewpoints presented by key figures in the stories, and form their own arguments and opinions about how best to reform California's criminal justice system. Background explanatory material, additional multimedia exploratory resources, and an educator guide are also available on the topic as part of our news education project.

3. The push for media literacy

The CCSS stresses digital fluency and media savvy. The diverse viewpoints and voices represented in KQED's programming provide ample opportunity for students to analyze the impact of various media formats and presentations. PBS's comprehensive coverage of the 2012 Election, for instance, is an excellent way to examine various media techniques and the huge influence they have in shaping public opinion. One approach is to compare political ads and have students analyze the candidates' contrasting media strategies in conveying messages to the public. Visit our teaching media literacy section for more ideas.

4. Encouraging online collaboration and exchange of ideas

This is key to the CCSS. Inherent in its set of highlighted 21st Century skills is the ability for students to use and become part of diverse online communities to digitally interact and engage, and to share and express ideas and knowledge without geographical restrictions. KQED Education recently launched it's Do Now project, which encourages just that: getting students to express and share their ideas - via social media -  on a range of academically and socially relevant themes. Each week we ask a new question, accompanied by a brief description of the topic and a piece of embedded media. Students can respond via Twitter and other social media platforms. Their replies appear instantly on our site and are visible to other students in other schools, who can submit their own ideas to the discussion. It results in an ongoing, inclusive conversation among students who might never have had the opportunity to converse in person. The process is an impetus for students to explore topics in greater depth, understand diverse perspectives, and research relevant issues in real time.

Reading: Range, Complexity and Quality

Range of literature with texts selected from a broad range of cultures and periods

Stories: includes the sub-genres of adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, myths, science fiction, allegories, parodies, satire, and graphic novels.

Drama: includes classical through contemporary one-act and multi-act plays, both in written form and on film, and works by writers representing a broad range of literary periods and cultures.

Poetry: include classical through contemporary works and the sub-genres of narrative poems, typical poems, free-verse poems, sonnets, odes, ballads, and epic writers representing a broad range of literary periods and cultures.

Literary Non-Fiction (Informational Text):
Includes the sub-genres of exposition, argument, and functional text in the form of personal essays, speeches, opinion pieces, essays about art or literature, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience.

Parents please note: Given space limitations, the illustrative texts listed below are meant only to show individual titles that are representative of a range of topics and genres. At a curricular or instructional level, within and across grade levels, texts need to be selected around topics or themes that generate knowledge and allow students to study those topics or themes in depth.

Click here:
Samples of other noteworthy literature, drama, poetry, and non-fiction informational texts


Little Women
 by Louisa May Alcott (1869)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain (1876)

The Dark Is Rising
by Susan Cooper (1973)

by Laurence Yep (1975)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
by Mildred Taylor (1976)

“The Gift of the Magi”
by O. Henry (1906)

The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck (1939)

Fahrenheit 451
 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

The Killer Angels
by Michael Shaara (1975)

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë (1848)

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)

A Wrinkle in Time.
by L’Engle, Madeleine. 1962. (1962)

“The People Could Fly.” The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. by Hamilton, Virginia. 1985.


The Canterbury Tales.
Translated into modern English
by Chaucer, Geoffrey.
1951. (Late 14th Century)
* From The General Prologue

Don Quixote: The Ormsby Translation, Revised Backgrounds and Sources Criticism.
by de Cervantes, Miguel. 1981. (1605)

Pride and Prejudice.
by Austen, Jane.
1990. (1813) * From Chapter 1

 “The Cask of Amontillado.” Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Poe.1984. (1846)

Jane Eyre.
by Brontë, Charlotte. 2000. (1848)
* From Chapter 1

The Scarlet Letter: A Romance.
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel. 2003. (1850) *From Chapter 16

The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1592)

Fletcher, Louise. Sorry, Wrong Number. 1948. (1948)

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. 2003. (1599)
* From Act III, Scene 3

Molière, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. Tartuffe. The Project Gutenberg eBook of Tartuffe. Translated by Jeffrey D. Hoeper. Release Date: April 3, 2009 [eBook #28488] (1664)
 From Act III, Scene VI

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. 1999. (1895)
* From Act II, Part 2

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town: A Play in Three Acts. 2003. (1938)

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman.  1996. (1949)  * From Act II

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1994. (1959)  * From Act III

Soyinka, Wole. Death and the King’s Horseman: A Play.  2002. (1976)
* From Act I, Scene 1

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (1915)

“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1817)

“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe (1845)

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats (1820)

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson (1890)

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Paul Revere’s Ride.” (1861)

Whitman, Walt. “O Captain! My Captain!” 1990. (1865)

Carroll, Lewis. “Jabberwocky.” Alice Through the Looking Glass. 2005. (1872)
* From Chapter 1: “Looking-Glass House”

Yeats, William Butler. “The Song of Wandering Aengus.” W. B. Yeats Selected Poetry. 1962. (1899)

Sandburg, Carl. “Chicago.” Chicago Poems. 1916. (1916)

Hughes, Langston. “I, Too, Sing America.” The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. 1994. (1925)

Neruda, Pablo. “The Book of Questions.” The Book of Questions. Translated by William O’Daly. 1991. (1973)

Soto, Gary. “Oranges.”  1985. (1985)

Giovanni, Nikki. “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long.”  2007. (2007)
 Literary Non-Fiction Informational Text

“Letter on Thomas Jefferson” by John Adams (1776)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)

“Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: Address to Parliament on May 13th, 1940” by Winston Churchill (1940)

Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry (1955)

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (1962)

“Speech to the Second Virginia Convention” by Patrick Henry (1775)

“Farewell Address” by George Washington (1796)

“Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln (1863)

“State of the Union Address” by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1941)

“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964)

“Hope, Despair and Memory” by Elie Wiesel (1997)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

“Society and Solitude” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)

“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton (1909)

Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)

“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell (1946)

“Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry” by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)