Because of Winn Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn Dixie

Follow the links below to find free resources and book unit samples.


Book Information

Publication Date: March 2000

Reading Level: Lexile Measure 670L, Scholastic Guided Reading Level R

Interest Level: Grades 4-7

Major Awards: 2001 Newbery Honor

Number of Pages: 208 pages

Approximate Word Count: 63,440 words -- The average reader will spend 4 hours and 13 minutes reading Because of Winn-Dixie at 250 words per minute.*

Audible Book Length: 2 hrs and 29 mins

Book Themes: Abandonment, Compassion and Forgiveness, Isolation, Friendship, Family, Love, Courage

Genre: Young Adult Literature; Comedy; Coming-of-Age

Setting: A Small Town in Florida

Important Quote: 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.

First Line: My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.

Point of View: First Person (Central Narrator -- Opal)

War Books Mentioned in the Novel
We found it interesting that Kate DiCamillo mentions three books in Because of Winn Dixie. Each of these three famous books deal with a war theme. Was this coincidence or not?

  • Johnny Tremain - early Revolutionary War
  • War and Peace - the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia
  • Gone with the Wind - Civil War

    Kate DiCamillo

    Kate DiCamillo grew up in South Florida. She attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. After getting a degree she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where she worked for a book distributor called The Bookman in Minneapolis.

    While working for The Bookman, DiCamillo wrote short stories. DiCamillo received a grant from the McKnight Foundation to help support herself while writing her first novel. Because of Winn-Dixie was completed in March 2000. It tells the story of a ten-year-old girl named Opal. She and her preacher father move to Naomi, Florida. On the way to the store Winn-Dixie, Opal meets a dog. The dog was going to be sent to the pound so Opal claims it and names the dog after the store Winn-Dixie. With her new dog at her side Opal is able to explore her new home and meet new friends.

    Because of Winn-Dixie was chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 2001. DiCamillo published her second book called The Tiger Rising in March 2001.

*Estimate from Reading Length


Vocabulary List

cooped up

installment plan

typhoid fever


Links to Resources and Teaching Ideas

Each student made a project to represent one of the characters in this book.

Because of Winn Dixie
Because of Winn Dixie
Because of Winn Dixie

Opal went into Gertrude's Pets to find a collar for Winn Dixie. There she met Otis, a likable ex-con who played his guitar for the pets in the store he ran. She also meet a lively parrot named Gertrude, named after the store's owner. Gertrude squawked, Dog! Dog!" every time she saw Winn Dixie. Then would fly and land on his head. What do you know about parrots? Read the article below to learn more. Then make your own parrot.

Because of Winn Dixie

Parrot Facts

Three hundred and twenty-eight different species of parrots live on the Earth. Parrots are divided into groups such as cockatoos, lories, lovebirds, macaws, and parakeets.

Parrots range in size from the pygmy of the South Pacific which is only 3½ inches long to the hyacinth macaw which is about 10 inches long. Much of its length is in its long tail. Parrots weigh from just a few ounces to 3½ pounds. Most parrots are predominantly green, especially the ones from South America. Some American parrots are mostly blue or yellow. However, parrots may have red, green, blue, purple, white, pink, brown, yellow, and even black. They have large heads and short necks. The zygodactyolus feet of the parrot have two toes that point backwards and two toes that point forward. These toes make the parrot excellent climbers.

Because of Winn Dixie

Smaller parrots live 10 to 15 years. Larger parrots such as the macaws and cockatoos live more than 75 years. These birds reach maturity in 1 to 4 years. Wild parrots live in the forest of tropical zones including South America, Australia, and New Guinea. A few live in Africa and mainland Asia. Parrots are hole nesters. They build their nests in holes in trees, termite mounts, rock cavities, or ground tunnels. A few exceptions will build stick nests.

The thick muscular tongue helps the parrot eat fruit, seeds, buds, nectar, and pollen. Sometimes they will eat insects. Their strong beak is hooked. They feed their young by regurgitation.

Parrots have a wide range of articulations. Wild parrots do not imitate. Only pets will mimic people and noises they hear. The African gray parrots are the best mimics.

Some species of the parrot have become endangered. Thousands are brought to Europe and North America as pets. Many of these die making this journey.

Opal and Gloria fix egg salad sandwiches on white bread for their party. "And the afternoon before, we worked in Gloria's kitchen and made egg-salad sandwiches. We cut them up in triangles and cut off the crusts and put little toothpicks with frilly tops in them."

Because of Winn Dixie

Egg Salad

6 hard boiled eggs
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
½ cup mayonnaise
salt to taste

Peel eggs. Mash eggs with a fork. Combine the chopped eggs with mayonnaise, mustard, and salt.

Cut the crust off approximately 24 slices of bread. Spread the egg salad mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with paprika. Cut the sandwiches in half forming two triangles. You may wish to decorate the sandwiches with toothpicks with the frilly tops on them.

Because of Winn Dixie
Because of Winn Dixie
Because of Winn Dixie