The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This is another children's book I somehow missed as a child and am just getting around to reading now. It's also the first book I've ever read on an e-reader.
The story of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Toad and their lives on the river is endearing as well as entertaining. They are lovable characters with good hearts and plenty of idiosyncrasies that land them in one predicament after another. Themes include loyalty to friends, honesty, the importance of a work ethic and accepting responsibility for your actions.
A few times one of the characters uses the word "ass" in reference to another character, as in: "Stop it, you silly ass!" and "Indeed, I have been a complete ass and I know it." It only happens 3 or 4 times but it might be something you want to be prepared for if you decide to read it to your children. I was surprised to see the word there at all, but maybe when the book was written in 1908 it wasn't considered a "bad" word. On the other hand I've also read that it never was meant for children anyway. Peter Hunt, Professor Emeritus in children's literature at Cardiff University, said in his introduction to one edition that it could be "the greatest case of mistaken identity in literature". As I was reading I did at times feel it might be more appealing to adults than children, but whoever it was intended for, I loved it.
The writing is beautiful. I love the way Grahame puts words together: "They recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day deep in green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing of the afternoon; the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow." I'm hoping he has other books to discover. It's such a pleasure to read his writing.
This one gets a "thumbs up" from me. If you don't have kids to read it to, get it for yourself. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.