The Wind in the Willows

Common Sense Media says

A timeless classic for generations.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

A classic story about friendship. 

Positive role models

Impetuous Toad steals a motor car and a horse.

Violence & scariness

A fight scene against the ferrets and weasels. A ferret shoots at Toad, Rat puts pistols in his belt, Otter cuffs a rabbit.


Occasional use of an affectionate British insult which some Americans find offensive.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that these beautifully written, richly inventive adventures are best for children with patience. Patrick Benson's art adds nothing over Ernest H. Shepherd's original drawings.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Wealthy, spoiled Toad has a way of getting his friends in trouble, especially when he gets a motor car, but he can always count on Mole, Water Rat, and Badger to get him out again. A timeless classic for generations, though rather difficult for many of today's children. Benson's illustrations are adequate, but add nothing new.


Is it any good?


Kenneth Grahame, who wrote this as a series of bedtime stories for his son in 1908, introduces readers to a society filled with animal etiquette. The underground Badger appears to be society-hating, but does follow protocol; it bothers him most that vain and trendy Toad (the most entertaining character) does just what he wants. Toad gets bored with boating and finds a new hobby -- motor cars -- that results in a prison break and a somewhat reformed Toad sees the error of his ways through the help of his pals. Friendship drives this social structure, and this story.

Patrick Benson's cross-hatched drawings are so similar to Ernest H. Shepard's original ink drawings that they seem redundant. Parents who remember the version with Shepard's illustrations will not find these jarring, but may prefer to share with their children the edition they remember.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about character. Do you like Toad at the outset? 

  • Would you want him as a friend? 

  • How do the characters learn and grow from their relationships?

Book details

Author:Kenneth Grahame
Illustrator:Patrick Benson
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Horses and farm animals, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Publication date:December 31, 1969
Number of pages:271
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of The Wind in the Willows was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byrufusmom April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Read this book!

My kids (ages 5 and 7) loved being read this book! I gave it an "iffy" for language, because the term "silly ass" was used a few times. The depiction of Toad provides a perfect opportunity to discuss things such as temptation, avoiding sinful behavior, selfishness, greed, and the way a friend should help another who is caught in such behavior.

Kid, 12 years old Written byomos July 23, 2011

Everyone enjoys a classic.

The book Wind in the Willows is very unique. It somehow ties together wood animals, humans and motor cars into the one story and pulls it off. This story is full of mischievious mayhem and friendships that are driven through the worst of times. It is quite a cute story for everyone to enjoy.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much swearing
Parent of a 8 year old Written byallietx January 13, 2010

Classic fun for animal adventure fans

I read this book to my 8 year old son and we both really enjoyed it. It has funny parts and some mild adventures and lovely characters with good messages about friendship (and the dangers of boasting!).

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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