More than a third of students from low‑income households
$0 still needed
Meet Zora: Their Eyes Were Watching God Literature Circles
My students need 25 copies of'Their Eyes Were Watching God' to round out our study of 1920s literature for our literature circles project in the spring.
I already teach "The Great Gatsby" and "The Grapes of Wrath" as a part of my 1920s literature circles unit, but I want to offer my students a third option to boost engagement, and give them a chance to read a book by a woman and an African-American sometime during the year.
Research shows that students are more likely to be involved with their reading if they are interested in the subject and allowed to choose the book they will read for a project.
This is why I end the year with literature circles.
My school is almost 100% white. It is a rural school in the Midwest, with fewer than 250 students. Most of the book options we have in the basement are by white men, which is not necessarily a problem, but I realized that I didn't have any minority or feminist literature as I was going through the stacks this summer.
I signed up for a summer workshop on Zora Neale Hurston with the National Endowment for the Humanities and fell in love with her writing; I want to offer her vivid language and unique storytelling to my students to open their eyes to a new kind of writing by a writer with spunk and personality.
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" would be interesting to my students because of the focus on self-discovery, which many of them connect with, and because of the romantic element. Several of my students have read it by choice and recommended it for a literature circle option. "Gatsby" and "Grapes" provide options for students who want a city or a country focus, but it would be good to split the field and allow students more choices.
This project is unique because students engage in small group discussions and deep textual analysis. It is one of my final projects for the year, and it allows students to demonstrate their skills from the entire school year. We will engage in close reading and students will conduct a group investigation into how the book changed its own historical context and still affects us today.
There are so few authors like Zora, authors that are able to capture the imagination, teach a lesson, and craft beautiful imagery, all at the same time.
This book changed me when I was in high school and opened my mind to African-American and feminist literature in a way that I hadn't considered previously. Please support my students and give them the opportunity to experience Zora as well!
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