Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
May 28, 2009 in Cause and Effect, Creative Writing activities, DiCamillo, Kate, Middle Grade Novel, Reading Skills, six traits of writing Tags: Because of Winn-Dixie, creative writing activities, Kate DiCamillo, Newberry Honor Book, reading skills
*Middle-grade novel, contemporary
*10-year-old girl as main character
*Rating: Because of Winn-Dixie might have been a great movie, but the book by Kate DiCamillo is ten times better.
Short, short summary: India Opal Buloni, the daughter of a preacher, goes to the store for a few groceries and comes home with a dog, whom she names after the store–Winn-Dixie. Thanks to Winn-Dixie, Opal finds the courage to ask her father to tell her 10 things about her mother, who abandoned her several years ago. She also makes some unusual but nice friends in her new town of Naomi, Florida with Winn-Dixie at her side. Kate DiCamillo received a Newberry Honor for Because of Winn-Dixie.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Because of Winn-Dixie is written in first-person. Discuss with your students why they think Kate DiCamillo chose to write this book in first-person instead of third-person. As a class, write the part of Opal going to the store and finding Winn-Dixie in third person. Compare and contrast the voice of the first person version to your class’s third person version. Which draws you into the story more? What was the purpose of Kate DiCamillo writing in first person? Ask your students to take a story they are writing and change the way they are writing it, to see if it makes their story, or the voice, any better. So, if they are writing in first person, ask them to try a section in third person and so on.
2. Because of Winn-Dixie is full of interesting characters. For this language and reading activity, ask students to pick one of the characters besides Opal, and write a letter in that character’s voice to Opal. For example, students could choose to be Miss Franny. Then students would write a pretend letter to Opal from Miss Franny, using events in the book to shape their letters.
3. Practice the reading skill of cause and effect with Because of Winn-Dixie. The book is full of events that occur because of another event. For example, Cause: Opal doesn’t want the stray dog to go to the pound. Effect: She says it is hers and calls him Winn-Dixie. Ask students to find cause and effect pairs, and write them in their reading response journals. For another reading activity, you can put students in groups of two and assign one person to write a cause. Then the partner writes the effect of that cause. Then the first person writes an effect of that effect (which turned into a cause) and so on.