Updated: April 15, 8:11 a.m. | Posted: April 14, 3 p.m.
Minnesota novelist Kate DiCamillo's novel "Because of Winn-Dixie" is the first selection for a new statewide book club called "One Book One Minnesota." The club invites all Minnesotans to read a common title and then come together virtually to enjoy, reflect and discuss.
“We all need stories of hope and connection now,” DiCamillo said. She believes her novel to be just that. “To read it out loud to your kids, out loud to your fellow adults, it’s just a way for all of us to be together. “
The Minnesota Center for the Book, partnering with State Library Services, is launching the program as a way to bring Minnesotans together during a challenging time and to highlight the role of libraries within communities. It will run through April and May this year.
Copies will be available through local libraries, bookstores, and free e-books in April and May. Author videos, reading guides and virtual book club discussions will be available online and DiCamillo will participate in a statewide virtual discussion in May.
“I’ll get to connect to all these readers, and all of my fellow Minnesotans,” said DiCamillo. “So that’s something I am really looking forward to.”
The writer, who has now authored some 30 books, said in a release she is thrilled “Winn-Dixie” is the first selection for the statewide book club.
“Let’s read, Minnesota!” she said.
DiCamillo is using her stay-at-home time to do what she does every day: write two pages. It’s how she has written all of her books including “Because of Winn-Dixie.”
The best-selling novel, published 20 years ago, is the story of 10-year-old India Opal Buloni who goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries — and comes home with a dog who changes her life. The book launched DiCamillo’s writing career, and won her a Newbery Honor as well as several other prizes.
“I can remember so clearly doing my first signing for ‘Because of Winn-Dixie’ at Red Balloon (bookstore in St Paul) and thinking I was the luckiest person in the world, to get a book published and have people come to the signing,” she said. “And I still feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to get to do this.”
Like many of her subsequent books “Winn-Dixie” shows young people dealing with tough realities, but learning how to move forward nonetheless.
The book has become a staple of many libraries — both in schools and elsewhere — and while aimed at younger audiences, it is enjoyed by readers of all ages. It became a movie directed by Wayne Wang in 2005.