The Wind in the Willows Book Poster Image

The Wind in the Willows

Timeless classic about Toad's adventures and his friends.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

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

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Adult Written byrufusmom April 9, 2008

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, 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 one of the soldiers fires a gun at him.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bysjl7 July 21, 2010


I loved this book. Yes it's kinda for little kids, but then again, not really. There's some words from the early 1900's, the era of this book, that might be confusing to some younger kids. Although, they do have footnotes on the pages that have those different words. Older kids should read this too. Its adventorous, silly, and quite adorable. I enjoyed it all the way through.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models