Lately I’ve read many books on parenting. Each offers a real contribution to our understanding of the vital and dynamic relationship between parents and children.

For example, the scholarly Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations provides insights on the balance between parental control and influence. Ten Secrets Wise Parents Know describes processes that research on LDS families have shown to be effective in rearing children.

Yet there is something austere about such scholarship and advice-giving. As I read them, I felt much like Whitman:

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air,
and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
(When I heard the learn’d astronomer)

On a flight from Dallas to Memphis, an exuberant seatmate shared a copy of Because of Winn-Dixie with me. Ahhh. The clank of mechanical language gave way to the warmth of lived life.

A lonely little girl named Opal befriends a stray and unruly dog. They proceed to charm the quirky librarian, the reticent pet-store manager, the local witch, rude classmates, and, ultimately, Opal’s distant dad.

I looked up from the tables and lists of parenting books to see people laughing, embracing, struggling, and living in this sweet book. I hope you will be as blessed by the book as I was. (And, if the forthcoming movie captures the spirit of the book, it will be worth seeing.)


Kate DiCamillo (2000). Because of Winn-Dixie. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. A Newberry Honor Book.