Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo,

Book cover of Because of Winn-Dixie

Book description

Funny and poignant, this 2001 Newbery Honor novel captures life in a quirky Southern town as Opal and her mangy dog, Winn-Dixie, strike up friendships among the locals.

One summer's day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries - and comes home with a…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

12 authors picked Because of Winn-Dixie as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A book about family, friends, and faith; I love a book that has me smiling, laughing, and supplies some tugs at the old heartstrings more than once. This one did all that and more.

I’d suggest that if anyone needs a reminder that no one is too old to read a middle school-aged/young adult book, this is the one to read. It also made me want to dig out my old copy of Gone with the Wind.

Since there was a Winn-Dixie grocery store less than two miles from my house growing up, I was first drawn to this book because of the title.

But the moment I opened it I was swept into the heartwarming story of a lonely little girl who finds, and rescues, a stray dog at Winn-Dixie. This is a beautiful story of how a relationship with a dog can transform your life. It’s a book about friendship, compassion, and courage—and a story that stayed with me long after I closed the book.

Despite being all grown up, I return to this delightful and poignant book over and over.

Author Kate DiCamillo brings us such a well-written and engaging story of young India whose mom abandoned her and her preacher father. Both live in grief and longing with hopes the mother will one day return.

When you introduce a hilarious dog who knows how to smile, charm, and lure the hurting from their shell, you have the makings of the perfect story. DiCamillo pairs all the hard circumstances of India’s life with colorful characters harboring hard stories of their own. Together they make…

Terracolina: A Place to Belong

By Carla Kessler, Richard Kessler (illustrator),

Book cover of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

Carla Kessler Author Of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, one of my favorite places was in the top branches of a tree. From up there I could watch the world pass by, remaining invisible. I could make up stories about the world below and no one would challenge me. The second best place for me was inside the story of a book, the kind that took you to magical places where children always found a way to win the day. I knew when I “grew up” I would write one of those empowering books. I became a middle school teacher and have since read many wonderful books for this age. Enjoy my list of favorites.  

Carla's book list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference

What is my book about?

Where do you turn when the only adult who gets you, your grandpa, is gone, and the world seems to be in self-destruct mode?

On his 12th birthday, Thomas runs away to the forest he used to visit with Grandpa. It is dying. Will saving it from a deadly parasite bring him closer to Grandpa or make his world safer? Before he can find out, he is enticed into a magical world under an attack of a different kind.

Welcomed by a garden of talking plants, mind-reading creatures, tree-climbing, nature-loving beings, Thomas conquers the stinging, prickly hedge that guards the portal to this alternate world. At last, a place where he fits in. A place that needs him. But what about his and Grandpa’s forest?

“…a magical book...” John Perkins, New York Times best-selling author

I’m an unabashed dog lover. Any story about a sweet canine melts my heart.

And, no, Cujo isn’t on my list.

Not only do I love the story, the writing is superb. I adore quirky characters and this book doesn’t disappoint. 10-year-old Opal Buloni shines above all the others. As a former tomboy, I could relate to her spirit.

The book is the perfect blend of laughter, joy, and heartache, and is lifted by the goofy exploits of Winn Dixie.

Kate DiCamillo has an amazing way of creating characters that are easy to fall in love with, including a dog named after a grocery store. My daughters and I loved this book, which sits prominently on our shelf of favorite books. This story is especially beautiful because of the main characters, Opal and her father. Both are struggling with the abandonment of Opal’s mother. This book deals with important themes of grief, hope, acceptance, loss, friendship, and the healing power of animals.

From Jessica's list on the ins and outs of friendship.

Winn-Dixie is what Opal names the stray she rescues when it invades the local supermarket. She can’t bear to let anyone send it to the pound. I knew I was in for a ripper read the moment she said, "I knew I had done something big. And maybe stupid too." Her tale, like everything Kate DiCamillo creates, took me on a delightful journey.

Opal’s mum left when she was three and her dad, who she refers to as the preacher, never speaks of her. This distresses Opal, who has no friends in the new town they’ve just moved to. With…

Most fans of middle grade are already well acquainted with 10-year-old Opal and Winn-Dixie, her loyal canine companion. Opal is missing her absent mother, and is isolated in a new town – Naomi, Florida when she discovers Winn-Dixie at the supermarket. Winn-Dixie is the catalyst that leads her to consider her new community through fresh eyes. It’s a story of learning to heal, forgive, and find comfort through the friendship of others.

One of the reasons I think I enjoyed this book so much as a kid was because I was often bored by the town I grew up in…

From Monica's list on protagonists with grit.

Follow India Opal around her new town as she hunts for friendship and new family even as she learns more about the mother she lost. It’s a mangy mutt that helps break into the world of so many interesting people in her town. I’ve read this book at least a dozen times, and I’m always in love with the tangled ways that bring so many disparate characters together by the end of the book. 

Bonus: it contains the best fictional candy of all time: the Littmus Lozenge!

Although Because of Winn-Dixie was not written eighty years ago, I think it is destined to become a classic like Lassie Come-Home. Kate DiCamillo is my absolute favorite author of books for any age, and this is my favorite of her books. When ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local grocery store to buy groceries for her and her preacher father, she comes home instead with a scruffy, homeless dog she names Winn Dixie. And as the title says, it is because of Winn Dixie that all kinds of interesting things and people come into this lonely…

From Bobbie's list on about dogs for grades 3 and up.

A lonely girl adopts a dog who becomes a sort of friendship gateway for her. Because of her new dog—Winn Dixie—India Opal forms many friendships with the people in her new town, and generally brings the community together. This book was a favorite for my son and I to read together when he was small. I return to it every few years and am never disappointed. A perennial favorite.

Want books like Because of Winn-Dixie?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like Because of Winn-Dixie.

Browse books like Because of Winn-Dixie

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dogs, Florida, and India?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dogs, Florida, and India.

Dogs Explore 396 books about dogs
Florida Explore 128 books about Florida
India Explore 445 books about India