While en route to Australia, the titular Swiss Family Robinson finds themselves in great peril when their vessel is caught in a violent storm. As the ship breaks apart when it is battered against a reef, the family is abandoned by their crew, who escape without them in the lifeboats.
The family, which consists of a mother, father, and their four sons, are left to fend for themselves. Luckily as the storm subsides they see an island in the distance.
After salvaging a plethora of food, livestock, and other supplies they fashion a crude raft from the wreckage and make their way for the island. Every day on the island brings a new adventure and a new obstacle to overcome, as the family struggles to survive in a foreign land isolated from society.
Johann David Wyss, a Swiss pastor, wrote this tale of adventure not only to entertain but to instruct, specifically his four sons, in the ways of good family values and the virtue of self-reliance.