The Wind in the Willows

Book review by
Tara L. Rivera, Common Sense Media
The Wind in the Willows Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Timeless classic about Toad's adventures and his friends.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Gives readers a feel for the strict society of the British upper class -- as portrayed by animals. Also the dangers of stealing and driving a car. 

Positive Messages

This is a classic story about friendship that stresses the value of true friends and how they'll always have your back and your best interests at heart.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Toad's friends are cautious, responsible, loyal, and true. They try to save Toad from himself and bail him out when he gets into trouble. Toad is impetuous and irresponsible and steals a car and a horse.

Violence & Scariness

There's a fight that pits Toad against the ferrets and weasels. A ferret shoots at Toad, Rat puts pistols in his belt, and Otter cuffs a rabbit.


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

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the beautifully written, richly inventive adventures chronicled in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows are best for children with patience. Kids may be more familiar with TV and film versions based on the original book. There's a bit of violence when Toad gets into a fight with the ferrets and weasels. A ferret shoots at Toad, Rat puts pistols in his belt, and Otter cuffs a rabbit.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byekissane February 18, 2020

A sparkling, joyful read-aloud

A remarkable, beautifully written classic story of friendship, feeling, and impulse control, with plentiful messing about in boats.

The vocabulary isn't... Continue reading
Adult Written byMegan S. September 26, 2016

Beautiful book

This book is an absolute classic for both parents and children to enjoy. It is a shame that some people feel this book is not within the reach of modern day chi... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old February 5, 2013

Wind in the Willows Review by 8 year old

I liked this book. My favorite parts were 1) the attack, 2) mole making the boat capsize, and 3) toad trying to get his house back but he has to duck because on... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 9, 2012

I loved it! Great classic!

I loved this book. Sometimes it is great to let go of everything in the modern world and drop yourself into a timeless classic, such as The Wind in the Willows.... Continue reading

What's the story?

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.

Is it any good?

A timeless classic for generations, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS may be difficult for today's kids in terms of its language and pacing. But parents can help in a read-aloud setting. Patrick Benson's cross-hatched drawings in this edition are so similar to Ernest H. Shepard's original ink drawings that they don't add anything particularly new.  

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. Friendship drives this social structure and this story.

Talk to your kids about ...

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

  • Would you want Toad as a friend? 

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

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