9-12 Social Studies Reading List

Great Books high school social studies anthologies include a diverse collection of provocative readings about human rights, democracy, and civic activity.

Citizens of the World: Readings in Human Rights, Expanded Edition

How to Keep a Slave Cato the Elder

Hortensia's Protest Appian of Alexandria

Letter XLVII Seneca the Younger

Magna Carta   

English Bill of Rights*

Second Treatise of Government* John Locke

The Social Contract* Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Declaration of Independence   

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 

Constitution of the United States of America 
(Preamble and Bill of Rights)

State of the Union Address* Andrew Jackson

Emancipation Proclamation Abraham Lincoln

The United States of American v. Susan B. Anthony* 

Slavery of the Henequen Plantations of Yucatan Channing Arnold and Frederick Frost

Independence v. Swaraj Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi's Followers Protest the Salt Tax Webb Miller

The Stalin Epigram Osip Mandelstam

The Arrest of Osip Mandelstam Nadezhda Mandelstam

I Will Bear Witness* Victor Klemperer 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Harlem [2] Langston Hughes

Survival in Auschwitz* Primo Levi

Defending Freedom and Freedom of Speech Luis Aguilar

Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr.

The Rivonia Trial: Second Court Statement* Nelson Mandela 

Letter to Deng Xiaoping Wei Jingsheng

The Censors Luisa Valenzuela

We Say No Eduardo Galeano

A Few Remarks Václav Havel, Stanislav Devdy, Jiri Krizan, and Sasa Vondra

Comrades Nadine Gordimer

The War and the Law Max Frankel

Safeguard Your Lives Jan Wong

Red Scarf Girl* Ji-li Jiang

My Forbidden Face* Latifa

The Perplexities of the Rights of Man Hannah Arendt

The Cancer of Human Rights* John A. Gentry

Promoting Human Rights William F. Schulz

Let's Fight Terrorism, Not the Constitution David Cole

Confusing Freedom with License—Licenses Terrorism, Not Freedom Douglas W. Kmiec

Moral Prohibition at a Price Michael Ignatieff

Should We Fight Terror with Torture? Alan Dershowitz

*Indicates a selection take from a longer work.


The Will of the People: Readings in American Democracy 

Declaration of Independence  

The Federalist Papers (Nos. 10, 51, 78) James Madison

Constitution of the United States of America 

Farewell Address George Washington

Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls Convention   

Emancipation Proclamation Abraham Lincoln

Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln

Second Inaugural Address Abraham Lincoln

Address to the First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association Sojourner Truth

The United States of America v. Susan B. Anthony   

Let America Be America Again Langston Hughes

Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King Jr.


The Civically Engaged Reader 


Selection from Politics Aristotle

Waiting for the Barbarians Constantine Cavafy 

I Shall Not Beg for my Rights Henry MacNeal Turner

The Boy Without a Flag Abraham Rodriguez Jr.

They'll Say, "She Must Be from Another Country" Imtiaz Dharker

Fellowship Franz Kafka

Earliest Impressions Jane Addams

He Sits Down on the Floor of a School for the Retarded Alden Nowlan

Selection from The Theory of Moral Sentiments Adam Smith

Selection from Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville

Selection from The Souls of Black Folk W. E. B. Du Bois

Theme for English B Langston Hughes

Recitatif Toni Morrison

Mending Wall Robert Frost


Luella Miller Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

Dry Dock Margaret Sutherland

Saving the Crippled Boy Jan Beatty

The Eleventh Henri Barbusse

The Moral Equivalent of War William James

The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements Jane Addams

The Drum Major Instinct Martin Luther King Jr.

The Book of Ruth 

Selection from Specimen Days Walt Whitman

The Lovers of the Poor Gwendolyn Brooks

What We Don't Talk About When We Don't Talk About Service Adam Davis


Where Were We Dave Eggers

Selection from The Reveries of the Solitary Walker Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Sweetness of Charity Maya Angelou

The Lamb and the Pinecone Pablo Neruda

The Gospel of Wealth, Part I Andrew Carnegie

Selection from "Self-Reliance" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Compassion: The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel Sogyal Rinpoche

A Bed for the Night Bertolt Brecht

Four Traditions of Philanthropy Elizabeth Lynn and D. Susan Wisely

Selection from the Mishneh Torah Moses Maimonides 

If All Who Have Begged Help Anna Akhmatova 


The Wife of His Youth Charles Waddell Chesnutt

II Samuel, Chapters 11-12

The Destructors Graham Greene

The Helmsman Franz Kafka

The Lesson Toni Cade Bambara

The Use of Force William Carlos Williams

Selection from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas Ursula K. Le Guin

The History Teacher Billy Collins

Second Inaugural Address Abraham Lincoln

The Minister's Black Veil Nathaniel Hawthorne


Appendix A
A Brief Guide to Reading and Discussion Programs for Service Volunteers 

Appendix B
Questions for Discussion 


Talking Service: Readings for Civic Reflection 

A Bed for the Night Bertolt Brecht

The Lamb and the Pinecone Pablo Neruda

Theme for English B Langston Hughes

Selection from The Reveries of the Solitary Walker Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Fellowship Franz Kafka

Earliest Impressions Jane Addams

A Gift of Love Martin Luther King Jr.