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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    The Library of Congress offers a collection of plays written by Hurston but unpublished until 1997, well after her death.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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Activities & Projects

Grades   9 – 12  |  Activity & Project

Recording Family Stories

Teens can take part in the process of building family histories by recording the stories, or memoirs, of family members.


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Grades   6 – 8  |  Printout  |  Learning New Skills

Qualities of Good Storytelling

This printout helps children focus on books that they are currently reading to see different models of well-told stories.


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