Because of Winn Dixie #slice2013

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 Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.  (I stole this paragraph from Jen Vincent's blog)

Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people’s stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
(I stole this paragraph from Jen Vincent’s blog)

Because of Winn Dixie is the title of the 2001 Newbery honor winning book by Kate DiCamillo. Many amazing things happen in this 182 page middle grade novel because of the dog, Winn-Dixie, that the main character Opal finds in the books opening chapter. I’m not sure if Kate DiCamillo intended for so many things to happen in my classroom because of Winn-Dixie. I’m going to share with you one of those things.

The plan was to finish Because of Winn-Dixie today, Tuesday. I was going to read 15 pages on Monday and 15 pages on Tuesday. Like most plans in an elementary classroom, things didn’t go as I expected. Usually when things don’t go according to plan it’s because I don’t get done as much as I had intended. Based on the looks in the eyes of my eight and nine year old students, there was no way that  we were not going to finish Because of Winn-Dixie. Plans change.

If you have never read Because of Winn-Dixie you may not know that the last 30 pages are some of the most beautiful pages ever placed in the pages of a middle grade novel. The teacher in me wanted to ask my students so many questions during those last 30 pages. I wanted to have these deep rich discussions. I made the decision during those final pages that it wasn’t my job to ask wonderful questions or lead a thought provoking discussion. My job was to get Kate DiCamillo’s words from the pages of Winn-Dixie to the hearts of my students.

During those last 30 pages I stopped reading twice. The first time was to hand Kleenex to a distraught girl, and the second time was to compose myself when my tears started to flow.

Kate DiCamillo’s life was forever changed when Because of Winn-Dixie won the 2001 Newbery honor. The book was just the beginning of her amazing career, that has had an impact on so many young readers all over the world. I hope that every author out there that writes for children understands that so many things can happen because of their books. Whether it be a dog in a grocery store, a magic bread box, a girl sent to Key West, or a snail that is brave; the books that are placed in the hands and hearts of our readers can change them forever.

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22 thoughts on “Because of Winn Dixie #slice2013

  1. As I read your reflections, I was immediately taken back many many years to being a fifth grade student remembering a particular read aloud shared by my teacher. Happy memories for me that I still remember like it was yesterday. It’s exciting to think that you’ve begun that type of memory for your students.

    • Lisa

      Yes, I felt the same pull into the past. For me it was 4th grade and Miss Way as she read to us The Secret Garden. I was transported into another space and time at the tender age of 10. Back then, just hearing the crackle of the plastic cover-protector brought a shiver of anticipation. Today, I love sharing books like Because of Winn Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (also the work of Ms. DiCamillo) with my students so they can be transported by the author’s words. It is my fervent hope that I am creating memories they will be pulled into at some future date!

  2. Thank you for bringing us into your classroom for once of the best moments a teacher can have… the end of an amazing book. There is not anything like a read aloud to create a community in a classroom.
    Clare and Tammy

  3. I totally understand “letting the words speak for themselves.” Often, our desire to do an “interactive read aloud” means we DESTROY the author’s words with our own. I can imagine the looks on their faces and the tears streaming down the cheeks. There is nothing like the power of a good book to transform people and communities.

  4. Linda D

    Kate’s powerful and beautiful words have touched many hearts in my classroom also. What a gift you gave your students. Thank for sharing!

  5. Leigh Anne

    I hate to admit this publicly…but…I have never read this book! I even have two copies in my classroom library. Love many of her other books though! You are so right…some books deserve no discussion but instead pure enjoyment!

  6. And those words don’t just go to the heart of children. I watched the movie with my husband. He turned to me when it was over and asked “Do you have that book in your classroom?” I brought it home to him the next day. Great story doesn’t limit itself to an age group….

  7. I agree with what Deb Day said above — Winn Dixie, and so many other great books, reach the hearts of all ages. One of my colleagues once said to me, “If they [kids/teachers/learners] don’t feel something, they’re probably not going to learn something either.”

  8. “The books that are placed in the hands and hearts of our readers can change them forever,” so much truth in these few words. Wish I could have been sitting in the back row listening to this book with your kids.

  9. allie701

    When I first became a librarian, my very wise mentor told me to let the book speak for itself. The rhythm of the words and their placement on the pages is intentional, and the reader does a terrible disservice to the author and the listener by interjecting her own comments. I try to alert the kids before I start reading to any vocabulary that might throw them, (although I do think readers absorb most language by osmosis.) and I save the discussion for the end. Sometimes I tell the kids that listening to a book is like watching a movie, and interrupting the action is disrespect to the author and the audience. They can all relate to that.

  10. Tina Moricz

    If you have not read Flora and Ulysses yet, you must. It had the same affect as Because of Winn Dixie. My 4ths were already big fans of Kate, but they really loved her latest book. When we learned something new in class they started quoting the book and saying things like “holy bag umbra” and “holy unanticipated occurrences.” Her books are filled with rich language experiences and characters. Kiddos for letting your kids live in the moment. We are reading Wonder at the moment. I’ve already been hitting the Kleenex box.

  11. This makes me want to reread Because of Winn-Dixie. :-) My class did slice of life pieces for the first time today, and I used this as one of our mentor texts. The kids were really excited to revisit thinking about the book. Thanks for writing and sharing!

  12. Colby, reading this post brought ME to tears *grabs Kleenex*

    And, do you know, I have that book here (for longer than I care to admit) WAITing for my attention. I STILL haven’t read it *sigh* I simply don’t know which books to read next anymore. Now this one moved up!

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