Kate Dicamillo: Biography, Books & Facts

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

You've probably heard of (or read!) the book ''Because of Winn-Dixie'', but how much do you know about its author, Kate DiCamillo? In this lesson, you will learn about the early life of DiCamillo and how she went on to write national bestsellers.

Early Life

Before Kate DiCamillo was the author of popular books like Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tales of Desperaux, she was just a regular kid growing up in Florida. She was born on March 25, 1964 in Philadelphia, but moved to the Sunshine State when she was five years old.

As a kid, DiCamillo suffered from chronic pneumonia, a chest infection that causes you to be sick for long periods of time. Her mom decided to move the family from the much cooler Northeast to the South in hopes that it would help young Kate's health. If you've ever had pneumonia or know someone else who has, then you know that it causes you to cough a lot. DiCamillo was unable to run around and play like other kids her age, so she began reading books to experience adventures inside her own mind. DiCamillo's family also had a dog named Nanette. DiCamillo put her imagination to good use and often spent time playing dress up with the poodle.

Becoming a Writer

After Kate DiCamillo graduated from college, she took a job working in a book warehouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she worked closely with children's books for four years. But Minneapolis is a far cry from the South, and DiCamillo missed the warmth -- and especially missed having a dog like Nanette to keep her company. This, along with her work with books, led her to write her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. From there, DiCamillo has written several picture books, novels, and early-readers for children.


Kate DiCamillo's books cover a wide variety of topics and describe vivid and engaging characters. While many of her stories are inspired by her early life, the characters and their adventures often come from her imagination. Each of her stories share a common theme: the ways that hope and perseverance can help you overcome any obstacle. DiCamillo attributes her ability as a writer not to luck or talent, but to hard work. In fact, she sets daily and weekly goals for her writing. She spends five days a week writing, and doesn't stop until she's written at least two pages each day. Talk about dedication!

Because of Winn-Dixie (2000) tells the story of India Opal Buloni, a little girl who moves to Florida with her dad, a preacher. India Opal Buloni is tired of moving around and misses her mother, but finds an unlikely friend in a local stray dog she names Winn-Dixie. She and Winn-Dixie have all sorts of adventures that bring her closer to the interesting people around her. The book was awarded a Newbery Honor and became a movie in 2005.

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