Browse Content     Because of Winn-Dixie

Ten-year-old Opal is the new kid in town in Naomi, Florida. She misses her friends, her home, and her mother, who left her family when Opal was a little girl. One day, at a grocery store, Opal meets a mangy but loveable stray dog who will change her life. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal makes a variety of new friends and grows closer to her distant father. 

Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.

4th Grade Short Story 600L
Stray
Cynthia Rylant 1985
Passage Summary:

A young girl finds a stray dog and wants it for a pet, but her parents are resistant.

When and How to Pair:

Read this text after chapter 11 to have students analyze character motivation. In this chapter, Opal and the preacher discover that Winn-Dixie is terrified of thunderstorms. Have students discuss why the preacher says they will need to keep an eye on Winn-Dixie. Then, have students discuss the resolution of the text “Stray.” Ask students to compare the preacher and Mr. Lacey’s reactions to the dogs their daughters brought home. Ask, “How does Opal feel at the end of the chapter? Why does she feel that way? How are the preacher’s actions similar to Mr. Lacey’s actions at the end of the story?” Students may describe how the fathers have developed compassion for the dogs in the two texts. 

4th Grade Fiction 740L
Aly’s Discovery
Jacqueline Adams 2015
Passage Summary:

In Jacqueline Adams’ “Aly’s Discovery,” a young girl finds friendship in someone unexpected

When and How to Pair:

Read this text after chapter 14 to have students think about the way relationships between characters grow. In the last few chapters, Opal has spent time getting to know Gloria Dump. Have students discuss what Opal and Gloria Dump have in common. Then, have students discuss what Aly and Miss Strawbridge have in common. Ask students to compare the development of the relationships between the younger and older characters in the two texts. Ask, “How has Opal’s friendship with Gloria Dump grown in the last few chapters? How is it similar to the way the friendship between Aly and Miss Strawbridge grows?” Students may share evidence about the interests and experiences the two pairs of characters have in common. 

3rd Grade Short Story
The Cat With No Meow
Alexa Tondreau Dahl 2021
Passage Summary:

In “The Cat With No Meow,” a girl learns about herself with the help of a new friend and a cat.

When and How to Pair:

Read this text after chapter 18 to have students think about empathy. In this chapter, Opal discovers that she and Amanda Wilkinson both have experienced terrible losses. Have students discuss how Opal viewed Amanda at the beginning of the story and what she thinks about Amanda now. Then, have students discuss how Jessalyn felt when she heard Esha’s presentation and how she felt at the end of the story. Ask students to compare how Opal and Jessalyn’s feelings changed. Ask, “Why have Opal’s feelings toward Amanda changed? How is Opal’s experience similar to why Jessalyn’s feelings about Esha changed?” Students may share that it is possible to have more in common with others than you originally think. 

3rd Grade Short Story 580L
Reading to Max
Heather Klassen 2016
Passage Summary:

In Heather Klassen’s short story “Reading to Max,” a boy reads to a special cat at the animal shelter. 

When and How to Pair:

Read this text after chapter 21 to have students consider the impact animals have on people. In this chapter, all of Opal’s friends come to her party. Have students discuss how each of the characters at the party became Opal’s friend. Then, have students discuss how Ben’s feelings about reading changed during the story. Ask students to compare the animals’ impact on Opal and Ben. Ask, “How has Winn-Dixie helped Opal over the course of the story? How is it similar to how Max helped Ben?” Students may share evidence about how the animals in the two stories helped the characters overcome challenges and develop confidence. 

4th Grade Short Story 830L
Jared to the Rescue
Carole Duncan Buckman 2015
Passage Summary:

In Carole Duncan Buckman’s short story “Jared to the Rescue,” Jared helps one of his classmates on the first day of second grade. 

When and How to Pair:

Read this text after chapter 26 to have students add to their thinking about how relationships change and grow. In this chapter, Opal chooses to be kind to Dunlap and Amanda. Have students discuss how Opal’s relationships with Dunlap and Amanda changed throughout the text. Then, have students discuss how Jared and Jessica’s relationship changed. Have students compare how these friendships developed. Ask, “Why did Opal’s relationships with Dunlap and Amanda change by the end of the story? How is it similar to why Jared and Jessica’s relationship changed?” Students may discuss the importance of having compassion for others and giving new friends a chance.