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Title: Because of Winn-Dixie
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Age Range: 9-12
Grade Level: 4-7
Because of Winn-Dixie is about a girl name India Opal that claims ownership of a stray dog causing chaos in the local grocery store. Being new in town, Opal hasn’t made many friends, but Winn-Dixie changes all that by bringing her together with a host of interesting characters in their small town. Even though her mama left when she was three and it’s just her and the preacher (her daddy), Opal soon discovers that her heart can be full again…all because of Winn-Dixie.
After reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, I was itching to pick up another Kate DiCamillo book. This one didn’t disappoint. Even though I knew a movie version had come out a number of years ago, I like to read the book first!
Because of Winn-Dixie totally engages the reader. Right away I liked India Opal and thought she had so much spunk! I love how the the author used a dog in this story to help Opal connect not only to her new community, but also to her daddy. Dogs certainly provide friendship and unconditional love and any child who has wanted desperately to take home a stray will be encouraged by Winn-Dixie.
There are some concepts in the story that are better suited for the older reader: Opal has a mother that left when she was three; Amanda has experienced the loss of a sibling; Gloria admits to have once had an addiction to alcohol. Be prepared to answer any questions your child may have concerning these sensitive subjects when you read the book. (I’ve included some links below to help you get started.)
We did rent the movie from the library after we (my daughter and I) finished reading the book. As is common, the movie doesn’t follow the book exactly and my daughter was constantly pointing out the differences. Overall, we liked the movie, but the book was much better!
Resources for Teaching
- 9-Day Guided Reading Lesson Plans
- Free Test and Graphic Organizers
- List of Activities for Teaching Because of Winn-Dixie
- Idea for “Mistake Tree”
- Comic Storyboarding Lesson Plan
- Compare and Contrast Book vs. Movie
- Teacher’s Guide
- Art Activity Ideas
- Have a Because of Winn-Dixie Party
- Explaining Absent Parents to Young Children
- Tips for Helping Kids Make Friends in a New Town
- Talking About Alcohol to Your Child
- Talking with a Child About Death