Documents Worthy of Close Reading by Grade Level

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Documents Worthy of Close Reading by Grade Level

Note: This is a partial and very incomplete list of documents that teachers can use for close reading. The selections for each grade level align with the California History-Social Science standards for that grade. Most of the documents are widely available on the web, although most need to be excerpted further, especially for the elementary and middle school grades.

Grade 4

“Father Luis Jayme Criticizes the Behavior of Spanish Soldiers, 1772,” from Major Problems in California History, edited by Sucheng Chan and Spencer C. Olin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 59-60.

“Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Criticizes the Mexicans in California, 1834,” from Two Years Before the Mast (New York: Modern Library, 1964 [originally published 1840], pp. 158-63, in Major Problems, 91-93.

“Louisa Clapp Pokes Fun at Her Experience as a Gold ‘Mineress,’ 1851,” in Major Problems, 114-115, from The Shirley Letters from the California Mines, 1851-1852, edited by Carl I. Wheat (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), 83-85.

“Frank Norris Excoriates the Railroad as ‘The Octopus,’ 1901,” in Major Problems, 168-171, from The Octopus, by Frank Norris (New York: Bantam, 1977), 31-33, 368-69.

“John Steinbeck Portrays Social Pressures in Rural California, 1939,” in Major Problems, 269-272, from The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (New York: Penguin Books, 1976 [originally published 1943]), 119, 144.

Grade 5

The Declaration of Independence

Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams, March 31, 1776,

The Bill of Rights

The Trial of Anne Hutchinson,

Transcripts from the Boston Massacre Trial,

Grade 6

“Hammurabi’s Code,” translated by L.W. King,

“Covenant between God and Abram,” Genesis 17,

Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration,”

Bhagavad Gita,

“Mencius and his Mother: A Lesson Drawn from Weaving,” Lienu zhuan, translated by Anne Kinney,

Livy, “Cincinnatus Leaves his Farm,” from Titus Livius, The History of Rome, Vol. I.  Editor Ernest Rhys, translator Rev. Canon Roberts (Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent and Sons (London); E.P. Dutton and Co. (New York, 1912),

Grade 7

“Selections from the Quran,” in Exploring the Global Past: Original Sources in World History, Volume 1, edited by Dale Crandall-Bear (Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 2001), 88-93.

“Ibn Battuta in Mali,”; soon to appear in History Blueprint Sites of Encounter in the Medieval World unit, at

The Song of Roland, translated by John O’Hagan,

Popol Vuh (Maya), or

Galileo Galilei, “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany, 1615,”

Grade 8

John Quincy Adams, “Speech on Independence Day, 1821,”

John L. O’Sullivan, “Manifest Destiny, 1839,”

Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” or his autobiography

Lincoln’s Speeches, in History Blueprint Civil War unit, lesson 5,

Fourteenth Amendment

Grade 10

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations,

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,

Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,”

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto,

Winston Churchill, “Speech to the House of Commons, 1940,”

Gustav Havel, “Speech to the Nation,” in History Blueprint Cold War Unit, lesson CWA/W5,

Grade 11

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle,

Social Policy Debate: William Graham Sumner, What the Social Classes Owe to Each Other, 1883, and Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianizing the Social Order, 1912,

Theodore Roosevelt, “Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine,”

Woodrow Wilson, “Fourteen Points,”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, “First Inaugural Address,”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Annual Address to Congress, 1941,”

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