All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Kate DiCamillo

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Kate DiCamillo was born in Philadelphia in 1964. Because she had pneumonia for the first five winters of her life, the doctor suggested that she would do better in a warmer climate. So, in 1969, Kate, her brother, and her mother moved to sunny Florida. Kate's health improved and she quickly developed a fondness for the warmer South.

Kate DiCamillo attended the University of Florida and majored in English. That is when she first decided to become a writer. For the next decade she wrote mostly short stories for adults, submitted them, and collected hundreds of rejection letters. To pay the bills, DiCamillo worked a variety of jobs at places like Disney World, Circus World, campgrounds, and greenhouses.

After moving to Minneapolis, DiCamillo began working at a book wholesaler. That is when she started reading children's books and decided to try writing for a younger audience. During a long, cold Minnesota winter, DiCamillo felt homesick and wrote a story that took place in the warm South. That story, Because of Winn-Dixie, was not only accepted and published; it also received a prestigious Newbery Honor.

Eventually, DiCamillo left her job at the book wholesaler to become a full-time author. When The Tale of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal in 2004, Kate DiCamillo solidified her place as one of today's most popular authors for young people. More recently, DiCamillo has tried her hand at writing books for an even younger audience. After delighting young readers with her whimsical Mercy Watson easy-reader series, DiCamillo published her first picture book, Great Joy, in 2007.

Kate DiCamillo and her dog, Henry, live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Selected Books

from Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux

Age Level: 9-12

Distinct stories which involve a mouse, a human princess, and a rat seamlessly come together to surprise and absorb readers as they see the struggle between light and dark in this Newbery-winning novel.

Buy The Tale of Despereaux

Because of Winn-Dixie

Age Level: 9-12

Soon after India Opal and her father, a preacher, move to a small Florida town, Opal meets an ugly stray mutt in the local grocery store, and names him after it. Opal and Winn Dixie build a unique family from an assortment of town residents for a poignant and very funny novel told from Opal's point of view.

Buy Because of Winn-Dixie

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Age Level: 9-12

Edward Tulane is a vain and selfish china rabbit whose memorable journey teaches him what love is as well as the pain it can cause. This sparsely told tale is evocative and comes full circle bringing Edward and his story to a satisfying resolution.

Buy The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Tiger Rising

Age Level: Teen

After the loss of his mother, Rob and his dad moved to a small Florida town where his father manages a motel. Behind the motel is a caged tiger that fascinates Rob — and a new city girl he befriends. Ultimately, Rob realizes that he, too, has been caged just like the tiger.

Buy Tiger Rising

Raymie Nightingale

Age Level: 9-12

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy Louisiana Elefante and the fiery Beverly Tapinski. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Buy Raymie Nightingale

Louisiana's Way Home

Age Level: 9-12

When Louisiana Elefante's granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn't overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town.

Buy Louisiana's Way Home