Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules

Cynthia Lord

Scholastic Press

Ages 9 to 12

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Discussion Guide

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Rules

RULES FOR DAVID

If the bathroom door is closed, knock! (especially if Catherine has a friend over).

Say thank you when someone gives you a present (even if you don't like it).

Don't stand in front of the TV when other people are watching it.

A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.

Some people think they know who you are, when really they don't.

No toys in the fishtank.

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules—from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"—in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Awards and Honors

Newbery Honor Medal

Schneider Family Book Award

Mitten Award (Michigan Library Association)

Great Lakes Great Books Award (Michigan)

Maine Student Book Award

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (Vermont)

Kentucky Bluegrass Award

Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire)

Buckeye Children's Book Award (Ohio)

"A heartwarming first novel." Booklist

New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

"Catherine is an appealing and believable character, acutely self-conscious and torn between her love for her brother and her resentment of his special needs. Middle-grade readers will recognize her longing for acceptance and be intrigued by this exploration of dealing with differences." Kirkus Reviews

KidPost Book of the Week, Washington Post

"The appealing, credible narrator at the heart of Lord's debut novel will draw in readers, as she struggles to find order and balance in her life.... A rewarding story that may well inspire readers to think about others' points of view." Publishers Weekly

Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)

"This is a story that depicts the impact of a needy child on an entire family very realistically. One of the treats in this book is that David echoes words rather than generating his own and he frequently speaks in lines he remembers from Arnold Lobel's Frog & Toad." Children's Literature - Joan Kindig, Ph.D.

Book of the Week, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)

"Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. . . this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter." School Library Journal

Editors' Pick, HW Wilson Standard Catalog

"This is an absorbing tale about valuing people even when it's difficult, and it may encourage readers to consider the benefits and challenges of their own families and friends." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Accelerated Reader (AR) Title

"This is not only a great read, with a nice rhythm and easy style, but it is an important book that siblings of kids with special needs need to read." Kid Lit: Books and More For Kids and Teens

ALA Notable Children's Book

"The first-person narrative is very engaging, and readers will identify with Catherine's struggles and cheer for her at the end. This is a great book to help students gain some understanding about autism, while also providing a good read. The author is the mother of an autistic child. Recommended." Library Media Connection

Read On Wisconsin, Middle-School Pick

"[A]n honest and frequently funny portrayal of what it's like to have a sibling with autism at an age when being accepted is so important." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nominated for state Kids' Choice Awards in:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pacific Northwest (voting together: Alaska, Alberta CA, British Columbia CA, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.