The Wind in the Willows

The first book our reading group has been reading is The Wind in the Willows. Considering how much I love both classic literature and children's books, the fact that I hadn't ever read this on my own was somewhat appalling. I had vague memories of my mother reading it to us as children, but the only memories of the story that really stuck were some irrelevant images from the Disney film and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

I did some digging around on the internet for relevant discussion questions (our reading group is premised as "Children's Books for Grown-Ups," so relevant in this case refers to questions not directly related to children's reading levels). There were plenty of classroom-oriented reading guides, questions for young students' essays, that sort of thing. But few questions to guide a group of adults through a decidedly youthful story. (I say youthful in the sense of "childlike" rather than "childish," a distinction which speaks volumes.)

Since I couldn't find much, I came up with a few questions on my own, some of which I will share here. But first, because this really was the best part of all my internet research, here are a few links to find out which character you are:

How is the friendship between Rat and Mole developed? Do you recognize anything from their friendship in your own relationships?

How is the novel's setting in some sense a character in itself?

What are Badger's flaws? How do they compare with Toad's?

What part of Toad's obsession with motor-cars is familiar to you from your own life?

The chapter "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is sandwiched between two chapters in which Toad behaves stupidly. Why do you think Kenneth Grahame chose to place this chapter here? What does this chapter say about the Toad narrative? What does it say about Rat and Mole respectively?

Most abridged editions, film adaptations, and reading guides treat the story of the novel as primarily Toad's. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?

Did Toad change, and if so how? If not, what would explain his behavior?

Badger calls Mole a hero. What parts do each character play in the final "battle," and how do they each seem particularly suited to their roles?

Were you satisfied with the ending?


  1. I had a teacher in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades who still read to her students. I had forgotten about this book...may have to get it on my Nook. Love perusing B&N's children's books. Laurel

  2. Get one with good pictures. :) There are so many well-illustrated editions out there.


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