Superb novel with superb messages.
Because of Winn-Dixie tells the story of India Opal Buloni, a 10-year-old girl who moves to a new town and doesn't know anybody. She is teased by the kids at church, and she has no friends. But all of that changes one day, when she is sent to a local Winn-Dixie store and finds a stray dog running around. She, much to her father's dismay, adopts the dog, and names it Winn-Dixie after the store. Winn-Dixie helps Opal make plenty of friends in this small southern town.
This is a fantastic book, but some of the content may be too much for kids. Opal's mother has abandoned her, and we learn that a little girl's brother drowned. Language consists of a few utterances of "hell". We learn that Gloria and Opal's mother were alcoholics (Gloria also has a "mistake tree" that has beer bottles hanging from it). However, the book has wonderful messages of tolerance and friendship. This is a great book for kids 8 and older.