One of the wonderful things about teaching elementary age students is that you have an excuse to read children’s literature. Excuses shouldn’t be necessary. Just as with adult literature, children’s books can challenge your thinking, introduce you to new perspectives, and affect your emotions. My friend who taught in the classroom next door some years ago introduced me to Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, and I loved it immediately. Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed all of DiCamillo’s books for middle-grade readers, and I’ve eagerly shared them with students to read independently, or in literature circles. I’m far from the only one who loves her work. She is one of six authors to win two Newbery Medals (The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses), and Winn-Dixie earned a Newbery Honor.
Though I have copies of all her books in my classroom, I’ve been collecting our own copies to keep at home so our son can read them as he gets older. However, I’ve been getting a bit antsy. He’s four now, so I’ve been wanting to read him some chapter books. Enter DiCamillo’s early chapter books. We picked up a copy of Leroy Ninker Saddles Up. I loved it for its offbeat characters, including a pure-hearted main character who realizes his dream. My son loved it for its humor. Today I wrote to DiCamillo to thank her for creating wonderful stories for my students, my son, and me to enjoy.
Image: Some of Ms. DiCamillo’s books from our own collection.
(for my review of The Tale of Despereaux, see this blog. I created it some years ago as I embarked on a project to read the Newbery winning books from the current day back to 1960. It just so happened to be the last book I read before the project was put on hold. Like everything else in my life, the project was sidelined once the school year began)