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.