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Because of Winn-Dixie

Last updated Sunday, September 5, 2010

Author: Kate DiCamillo
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0763644323
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2010

Synopsis: Because of Winn-Dixie, a big, ugly, happy dog, 10-year-old Opal learns 10 things about her long-gone mother from her preacher father. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes new friends among the somewhat unusual residents of her new hometown, Naomi, Florida. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to find her place in the world and let go of some of the sadness left by her mother's abandonment seven years earlier. With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people's lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood "witch," a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart. Part Frankie (The Member of the Wedding), part Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Opal brings her own unique and wonderful voice to a story of friendship, loneliness, and acceptance. Opal's down-home charm and dead-on honesty will earn her friends and fans far beyond the confines of Naomi, Florida.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you think this book will be about?
•  Do you think Winn-Dixie will be the girl or the dog [on the cover]?
•  Have you ever found a stray animal and wanted to keep it?
•  Have you ever been to the animal shelter or the pound?
•  Have you ever seen someone take a dog in the store? like the grocery store or the drug store?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why did India say the dog was hers?
•  India was worried her Dad would not let her keep the dog. After talking to him, he agreed to let her keep the dog. Have you ever been in a similar situation?
•  What did India know about her Dad to convince him to let her keep Winn-Dixie? (Answer: She presented the dog as a Less Fortunate, just like the people her father helps.)
•  What do you think will be some of the things India's Dad tells her about her Mom?

Craft ideas:
•  Think of a pet you have always wanted. Draw a picture of this animal and describe what it looks like.
•  Draw a picture of what you think Winn-Dixie looks like based on the ways India describes him in the beginning of the book.
•  India's family may be small, but she still loves her father a lot. Draw a picture of your family and list 10 things you want to know about your parents, or someone else in your family.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!