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September 18

Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937.

Grades 9 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was published in 1937. The novel tells of the life and loves of Janie Crawford in a story that is highlighted by its use of storytelling, black folklore, and dialects.




Their Eyes Were Watching God explores stories and storytelling. To introduce the novel in your class, ask students to brainstorm the kinds of stories they know. If students offer specific stories, list the stories and then go back through the list and divide the stories into categories such as family stories, mythology, folklore, urban legends, and so forth.

Next, ask students where these stories come from. Students should identify such sources as experience, books, parents, ancestors, history, friends, nature, fears, dreams, childhood, and home. As students begin reading the novel, return to these questions-identifying the kinds of stories that are being told, where the stories come from, and why they are being told.



  • Zora Neale Hurston

    This Today in History entry from the Library of Congress celebrates Hurston's birthday. Hurston was born on January 7, 1891 in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated black town in the United States.

  • The Official Zora Neal Hurston Website

    This site offers biographical information about Hurston, lists of her books, related news, links to additional resources, and guides for educators and reading groups. Included is an Instructor's Guide for Their Eyes Were Watching God.

  • The Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress

    The Library of Congress offers a collection of plays written by Hurston but unpublished until 1997, well after her death. The plays reflect Hurston's life, as well as her studies of African American folklore.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Style: Defining and Exploring an Author's Stylistic Choices

Students find examples of specific stylistic devices in sample literary passages then search for additional examples and explore the reasons for the stylistic choices that the author has made.


Grade   9  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective: Connecting Art, Music, Dance, and Poetry

Students research, evaluate, and synthesize information about the Harlem Renaissance from varied resources, create an exhibit, and highlight connections across disciplines (i.e., art, music, and poetry) using a Venn diagram.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Assessing Cultural Relevance: Exploring Personal Connections to a Text

As a class, students evaluate a nonfiction or realistic fiction text for its cultural relevance to themselves personally and as a group.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

A Biography Study: Using Role-Play to Explore Authors' Lives

Students read biographies and explore websites of selected American authors and then role-play as the authors.