Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday book blogging: Because of Winn-Dixie

I'm reading Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo aloud to the first-grader soon to be second-grader. Although we saw the movie on the plane on our way back from Puerto Rico, I ended up grabbing the book on our next trip to the library, then reading it impetuously in one sitting. And, wow, I was blown away. Friends, this book packs more emotional depth than the movie, which says a lot because certainly the movie was pretty decent.

What I really love is how the author quietly and gracefully pulls out one very precious thread of being human, namely that life holds loss: sorrow, grief, and sadness. Call it what you will since it comes in different ways for each of us.

I think our society holds no value in teaching us, especially the most vulnerable, our kids, how to deal with loss in our life. While I don't consider this book to be the how-to manual for teaching kids how to deal with feelings, I see this as a window, while reading the book aloud, to talk to the first-grader about loss and sadness, those darker feelings we all feel.

Even better, the book is a well-written, funny and genuinely honest read, with Winn-Dixie, the dog, and Opal, the ten year old girl, who's trying to figure out why her momma left her when she was three and why being in a new town brought up these strong but old feelings. She never figures it out completely but I bet you can, and in so doing, along with Opal in her journey through that summer, I suspect you might figure out some things about yourself as well.

Personal transformation from reading a well-written children's book: what a sweet surprise and more fun than reading one of those self-help books.

And daring to add my political take to this, I long suspect books like this one can be an insidiously powerful way to deal with Rovian Republican policies, which relies on people being unknowingly disconnected, especially from mind and feelings. There's a lot more I have to say on this, which I'll save for another post.