November 7, 2012
From my book review on GoodReads
In 2012, I was selected to be a giver in the US’ first World Book Night giveaway. I was given a list of 30 books to provide to reluctant readers from which I was to choose three titles as possible giveaways. In addition to Because of Winn Dixie, I chose Friday Night Lights and Speak. World Book Night and Barnes and Noble selected Because of Winn Dixie as my giveaway book.
I hadn’t read the book nor had I seen the movie. To introduce World Book Night to the students selected from ESL and remedial classes, I bought and played the movie. (Watching the movie first is a “best practice” for ESL students. The movie provides a visual context for the book.) To lure students to this afterschool activity, I provided Oreos and fruit juice.
13 students showed up. Several students began reading the book as the movie was running. A small group of ESL students held commentary as the movie played. All the students appeared pleased with receiving their very own copy. One child, Lester, couldn’t believe that he was getting his very own book. (He’s in the foster care system and carries all his belongings in a plastic bag.)
Over the course of the next several weeks, students would drop by and let me know where they were in the book. Lester asked if he could borrow the movie to watch at home as he read. I lent it to him over Spring Break. Later, he asked if he could have another copy of the novel. Some boys had bullied him and torn out the pages before he was done. Fortunately, I had extras.
I donated the extra copies of the book to the medium security prison my mother works at. She runs a program at the prison wherein the prisoners record themselves reading books aloud. The books and recordings are sent to the prisoners’ children so that the children have books read to them by their parents.
Last night, in a final effort to put off doing my summer homework, I finally read Because of Winn Dixie. It’s a charming book and I can see its appeal. Animal and dog lovers will appreciate the good qualities of Winn Dixie, the dog. Both children and adults can appreciate the loneliness of a girl moving to a new town as well as the loneliness of her father, an abandoned husband. Parents in my very conservative school will appreciate the “Christian” feel to the book which never feels preachy.
I really, really appreciate Kate DiCamllo’s afterword. I think I’ll be adopting her mantra “writing is seeing” as part of my theme for the next school year.
Note: I have posted this book as one of my books for reluctant/struggling readers on Pinterest