Selection of Authentic Texts for Common Core Instruction: Guidance and a List of Resources for Text Selection

High school students

Authentic Reading Materials

CCSS-aligned instructional materials include authentic reading materials. Authentic reading materials include published works that are typically encountered by students in daily life, such as in magazines, books or newspapers. The use of authentic reading material may mean that some material is emotionally charged or may use language outside of a student's particular cultural experience.

As always, curriculum decisions are made at the local level.

Central to the heart of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts & Literacy is reading, writing, speaking and listening grounded in text.  CCSS aligned assessment and instruction requires texts be of quality—that is, worth reading and re-reading, and capable of supporting rigorous questions grounded in evidence from the text.  Inherent in the standards is the need to engage students in texts of appropriate complexity for their grade level and to direct student attention to the complexity of the texts.  This document serves to guide educators in how to select texts that can support CCSS-aligned instruction and assessment as well as some resources to find these texts.

Guidance for selection: Quality and Opportunity for CCSS aligned instruction and assessment

Texts that support CCSS must contain the specific characteristics necessary to measure different standards. According to the standards, the two kinds of texts that should be used in CCSS aligned instruction and assessments are literary and informational texts.

Literary Texts:


  • For K-5: includes children’s adventure stories, folktales, legends, fables, fantasy, realistic fiction, and myth
  • For 6-12: includes subgenres of adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, myths, science fiction, realistic fiction, allegories, parodies, satire, and graphic novels)


  • For K-5: includes staged dialogue and brief familiar scenes
  • For 6-12: includes one-act and multi-act plays, both in written form and on film


  • For K-5: includes nursery rhymes and the subgenres of the narrative poem, limerick, and free verse poem
  • For 6-12: the subgenres of narrative poems, lyrical poems, free verse poems, sonnets, odes, ballads, and epics

Informational Texts:

Literary Nonfiction

  • For K-5: includes biographies and autobiographies
  • For 6-12: includes the subgenres 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

Historical, Scientific, and Technical Texts

  • For K-5: texts about history, social studies, science, and the arts; technical texts, including directions, forms, and information displayed in graphs, charts, or maps, and digital sources on a range of topics.
  • For 6-12: includes historical, scientific, technical, or economic accounts (including digital sources) written for a broad audience.

All texts should display:

  • Craft: at a level that is noteworthy and or widely recognized
  • Significance: the text is seminal or influential in its respective genre
  • Content: the text contains ideas or themes that are interesting, engaging, provocative, and significant

Selected texts need not have all three of these criteria, but the standards demand that some of them are present in selected texts.

Informational texts should display:

  • Relevant and accurate content
  • A clear point of view and/or purpose
  • A discernible main idea and a developed and clear organizational structure
  • Any argumentation in the text should contain claims supported by evidence in the text

Literary texts should display:

  • Significant themes that can support analysis
  • A developed and clear narrative structure
  • A clearly discernible point of view

Again, selected informational and literary texts need not have all of these criteria, but the standards demand that some of them are present in selected texts.

Guidance for selection: Complexity

When choosing texts for instruction and assessment at any grade level, educators should consider three dimensions of text complexity:

  1. Use of quantitative measures to assign a text to a grade band.
  2. Use of qualitative measures to locate a text within a specific grade band.
  3. Use of professional judgment to decide how suited a text is for a specific instructional purpose with a particular set of students.

In regards to selecting K-12 passages that are appropriately complex according to these multiple measures and can support CCSS-level questioning and assessment, there are several resources available that help with the process.   Note that the resources listed below are in varying stages in development and completion and that this resource list will be updated periodically.

Student Achievement Partners has developed a group of tools that address the essential qualitative, quantitative, and matching-reader-to-task considerations while selecting texts. As described in the Common Core, and Appendix A, all three pieces should be considered when selecting texts.

Within the text of the P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for ELA and Literacy, there are some suggestions for K-5 on page 42. Additionally, Appendix B is another excellent resource that includes literary and informational text exemplars.

Resources for locating potential texts:

In terms of where to find additional passages, NovelNY provides access to online databases which have articles on all curriculum topics, with Lexiles indicated for each article. They offer databases for elementary, middle school, as well as secondary curriculum levels. These resources are free for anyone who has access to the Internet and holds a public library card, New York driver license, or New York non-driver ID.  Your building librarian likely has links to these resources on your school’s webpage.

Libraries and librarians are also great resources.  Your school librarian is likely an under-tapped resource with many library catalogs searchable by Lexile.  Your librarian can lead you to a plethora of appropriate materials for learning centers, online access of articles, complexity tools and more.  NYS School Library Systems Association has led a resource aggregation for many additional resources to meet the Common Core Learning Standards and curriculum modules. Please visit the following site for an example of such a site:

The Text Project provides teacher resources and trade books aligned to CCSS measures of complexity. There is a section on the site for the Common Core and text complexity.

The Library of Congress has a database where you can search for classroom materials by CCSS and grade level. In addition, your school librarian can link you to many primary source archives which are available such as the NYS Archives.

For teachers who use Basal readers, the Basal Alignment Project is available at (use the code “etuyrm” to join). Note that this is not a text resource, but more of a task and question resource for existing texts.