I recently read The Wind in the Willows, a story I have not encountered since it was read aloud to me as a child, and I will join the many admirers who say that this is a book that should be read at age 8 and 50... and perhaps a few times in between. Through the homely and lovable characters of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad, Kenneth Graham (who was Scottish by the way) illuminates simple pleasures and simple challenges that adults far too often complicate. Never underestimate the enjoyment of a warm fire over a shared beer or the true kindness of a friend, and beware the destructive power of your own vanity and misguided boasts. These are merely some of the essential lessons that we much teach children and that we must re-learn ourselves from time to time.
Our society has done us great harm in telling us that books about animals are for children only. After all, C.S. Lewis reminds us that "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest!" I like to think that this is one of the books that he had in mind when he so famously stated, "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."