Now this is a novel that will break your heart and also fill it with hope and love at the same time. A best-seller and Newbery Honor book, this is one that will immediately become a favorite. One ten-year old girl recently told me, “None of the books I read are ever as good as Because of Winn-Dixie,” with a sigh. I understand completely. Opal is a young girl filled with loneliness and questions about her missing mother. But things change when she walks into a Winn-Dixie grocery store and walks out with a rescue dog. Winn-Dixie, the dog, brings something into Opal’s life – as one student told me, “she really rescues Opal just like Opal rescues her.” With a cast of memorable characters who each bring something unique to Opal’s life, this summer of change brings friendship and some life lessons that find their way unexpectedly into Opal’s life, just as the summer storm enters Opal’s life and brings surprises along with it. Gloria Dump, Miss Franny Block, and Otis all help Opal in their own way as she learns to deal with loss and sadness, while finding friends, acceptance and healing (and Winn-Dixie nudging her just a little bit). If you haven’t read this book, you must stop everything now and begin reading! I won’t spoil the plot, but this is one you should read and pass along to your students, friends, and family.
Topics for Teaching and Exploration
- Helping others.
Important Quotations for Discussion
- “You can’t always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”
- “Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be.”
- “There ain’t no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.”
- “We appreciate the complicated and wonderful gifts you give us in each other. And we appreciate the task you put down before us, of loving each other the best we can, even as you love us.”
- “I believe, sometimes, that the whole world has an aching heart.”
Why doesn’t Winn Dixie like to be alone? What do you think of Opal’s decision to take Winn Dixie to the church and to the library?
What do you think the preacher should tell Opal about her mother? What kinds of things would Opal like to know about her mother? What do you think about the list and the details he tells Opal?
Pretend like you are going to tell a friend about this book and about Opal. Make a list of ten things about Opal to tell your friend.
What things to Opal and the preacher have to be thankful for at the end of the book?
Why do you think the book is called “Because of Winn Dixie?”
Websites and Resources
Kate DiCamillo Interviews
Please share, what is YOUR favorite line from Because of Winn-Dixie?