How absolutely delightful is this book?
I don’t know how, in my thirty years of England-loving existence, I hadn’t read The Wind in the Willows before. It reminds me of everything charming about my favorite country – reminiscent of the feelings I get when I think of Peter Rabbit or Winnie the Pooh and when I think about my time spent tramping through the hills of the Cotswolds.
The Wind in the Willows tells the story of the Water Rat, the Mole, the Badger, and Mr. Toad as they live alongside the River, somewhere in jolly ole England. These four friends present with a variety of personalities – both good qualities and not-so-good – that result in a series of both adventures and misadventures.
The Water Rat is both steady and adventurous. He sees no need to venture far in order to have a good time. The Mole is loyal and excitable. He is curious and loves to see what’s new, but is loyal to the extreme when it comes to his friends. The Badger is reserved and hospitable. He doesn’t go out of his way to engage with others, but will receive guests and provide assistance whenever it comes to him. Mr. Toad is honest and prideful. He is in a constant state of both fueling and fighting his own selfishness. Throughout the course of our time at the River, we wander in the Wild Wood, meet the Spirit, break out of jail, and reclaim a home alongside our four delightful friends.
Personal, Spirital, + Emotional Learning
Looking first to education of the soul and mind, the adventures of these 4 friends provide ample opportunities to discuss friendship, decision making, consequences, and more.
Nature + Environmental Learning
It is also deeply connected to the rhythms of nature, making it a wonderful opportunity to make your own outdoor adventures – exploring woods and streams or just your backyard, searching for signs of the seasons, animal habitations, or local vegetation. Grahame is extremely observant of the natural world: a trait that comes through clearly in this story and will no doubt inspire its readers to explore on their own.
Speech Therapy + ELA Learning
Could this book be a potential stimulus for your therapy sessions or class time? As a read-along, the chapters in The Wind in the Willows may be a touch long for the typical 30 minute session or the average class period. Chapters can be up to 20 pages in length, which would take up a significant portion of your time. It’s also worth noting that, as it was published in 1908, there is some language that may be difficult to work around with your students, as their modern meanings are quite different from their meanings in the Edwardian period. With that in mind, I would most recommend The Wind in the Willows at the passage level. Taking just one portion of the text for a particular session or class lesson, you can choose the passage that best meets your students’ needs, leaving out portions that may be too difficult, too long, or too outdated.
As an example, I’ve chosen a short passage from the book to review for therapy targets. Beginning in chapter 8, Toad’s Adventures, with the paragraph beginning “One morning the girl was very thoughtful, and answered at random, and did not seem to Toad to be paying proper attention to his witty sayings and sparkling comments” and ending with “‘You are a good, kind, clever girl,’ he said, ‘and I am indeed a proud and a stupid toad. Introduce me to your worthy aunt, if you will be so kind, and I have no doubt that the excellent lady and I will be able to arrange terms satisfactory to both parties.'”
- Multiple meanings: sparkling, present, chief, pounds, parties
- Homophones: aunt, poor
- Prefixes/Suffixes: thoughtful, answered, sparkling, graciously, business, ungrateful, disguised, replied
- Synonyms/Antonyms: listen (attend, speak), quiet (hushed, loud), rich (wealthy, poor), escape (flee, capture), proud (arrogant, humble), hurriedly (quickly, slowly), clever (intelligent, stupid)
- Written in a mixture of past tense and present tense – changing statements by the characters from present tense to past or future tense
- Many uses of subjective pronouns – correcting sentences when provided incorrectly
- Ample opportunities for correcting subject verb agreement if provided incorrectly
- Standard opportunities for basic comprehension questions, event sequencing, etc…
- Inferencing opportunities for where Toad is, why he is there, etc…
- Analyze Toad’s behavior based on traits of humility and pride – find examples in the text that describe his behavior
- Discuss the right or wrongness of the girl’s plan to free Toad
- Discuss and analyze social skills of listening and attending to conversations
- Role-play the discussion that Toad and the Aunt will have using good social skills for negotiation
- /l/ = girl, thoughtful, sparkling, presently, listen, graciously, affably, several, talk, fault, castle, all, family, telling, always, lot, properly, believe, animals, let, official, alike, particularly, elegant, ungrateful, help, surely, hall, replied, himself, clever, will, excellent, lady, will
- /r/ = morning, girl, very, random, answered, proper, sparkling, presently, washerwoman, there, graciously, never, more, several, hurt, prisoners, try, sort, understand, poor, difference, her, were, approached, squared, word, arrangement, dress, you’re, particularly, figure, horrid, proud, ungrateful, sorry, right, hurriedly, surely, country, replied, spirit, four, ready, wrong, clever, proud, introduce, worthy, arrange, terms, satisfactory, parties
- /sh/ =washerwoman, washing, she, official, surely,
- /ch/ =attention, chief, approached, coach,
- /s/ =answered, seem, sayings, sparkling, comments, listen, said, castle, business, sort, understand, takes, difference, squared, dress, escape, respects, yes, disguised, suppose, spirit, honest, himself, stupid, introduce, excellent, satisfactory
- /z/ = was, sayings, presently, please, does, prisoners, business, brings, pounds, animals, disguised, suppose, always, parties
- /th/ = thoughtful, think, worthy
- Join in on any language activity at the word or sentence level, practice reading, or practice fluent speech during social skills discussions
As you can hopefully see, The Wind in the Willows offers a lovely opportunity for your children to develop vital skills in emotions and friendships, for children or students to explore and develop an appreciation for the outdoor world, or for your students to work on many of the skills and targets we typically see in the school-based setting. I hope you’ll consider bringing this classic into your home, therapy sessions or class lessons!
Interested in more on The Wind in the Willows? Keep a check on Cups with Christin for explorations on personality types, temptation, the Holy Spirit and more!