Wind in the Willows

My husband is not a reader.

Despite going to one of the best known and well respected state grammar schools in Kent, much of his ‘youff’ was spent playing football and reading was only done when absolutely required. His regular reading now is limited to a certain newspaper on a Monday because ‘their sports coverage is very good’.

That said, he has a favourite book from his childhood which is ‘The Wind in the Willows’. He loves the way Kenneth Grahame depicts life at the turn of the twentieth century, albeit through the lives of the animal characters. This passion has stayed with him into adult hood. When he retired, he used to come into my school three times a week and take small groups of children for reading. They were usually readers who needed additional help and encouragement, although he did have a high-flying group of 11 year olds who were just about to take their SATs tests.

Once he had established a rapport with the children they would move away from scheme books to books that had more interest for them. So for instance, a couple of Year 4 (8 year old) boys looked at poetry about football. What all groups shared was the Wind in the Willows treatment. Nick would find a copy of the book at the appropriate level. Did you know there is a Ladybird version? Each group would find its own level of intellectual discussion particularly around vocabulary that is no longer used. How fabulous for them to hear ‘Onion sauce’ as a taunt to a rabbit trying to charge a sixpence for travelling along his part of the road!

On our recent trip to London to do the Books About Town Bench Trails, we just had to find the Wind in the Willows. It shows some of Toad’s mad adventures.

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Of course, I had to take himself sitting on it!

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The backs of these benches, all designed by local artists and famous names are also decorated. It was grand to ‘The Lads’ depicted so beautifully as the group of friends they were.

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Is Wind in the Willows in your library? Have you a favourite children’s book that has stayed with you as you grew?

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