Rules by Cynthia Lord

Book Cover:  Rules by Cynthia LordThis year I decided one of my “life reading goals” is to read all of the Newbery Medal Winners and Newbery Honor books. Since this is a life goal, I don’t have to rush through it, but I’ve found myself enjoying these books so much, that I can’t stop reading them. Plus, they are nice breathers as I usually read them in a day and give me a small break from my much longer adult fiction books.

Rules by Cynthia Lord, is one of these books, and is a Newbery Honor book for 2007. It’s also an ALA Notable Children’s Book. Catherine, a twelve year old girl, loves her autistic little brother, David, but also resents that he comes in the way of her desire for acceptance and normalcy. Catherine has created a list of rules for David in an attempt to head off any embarrassing behaviors. These rules include:

  • No toys in the fish tank
  • If the bathroom door is closed, knock (especially if Catherine has a friend over)!
  • At someone else’s house, you have to follow their rules
  • A boy can take his shirt off to swim, but not his shorts.
  • Sometimes people laugh when they like you. But sometimes they laugh to hurt you.
  • You can yell on a playground, but not during dinner.
  • Flush!
  • Sometimes people don’t answer because they didn’t hear you. Other times it’s because they don’t want to hear you.

Catherine has a set of unwritten rules that she follows herself. Some of these include:

  • Leaving out isn’t the same as lying.
  • Not everything worth keeping has to be useful.
  • If you don’t want to do something, say, “Hmm. I’ll think about it” and maybe the asker will forget the whole bad idea.
  • If you want to get away from someone, check your watch and say, “Sorry, gotta go!”
  • Sometimes you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got.
  • If you want to change the subject, confuse the other person by going off on a wild, chatty detour.
  • When someone is upset, it’s not a good time to bring up your own problems.
  • When you say something stupid, gloss over it with superfast talking and maybe no one’ll notice.

Through the simple plot, Catherine learns how to let go, be herself, and not worry about what others think. This book is perfect for those families or young siblings whose lives are impacted by a special needs child. It’s also perfect for families or children who would like to learn empathy, see the world through someone else’s eyes and learn what it’s like to be different.

Cynthia Lord’s website here.


  1. This looks like an excellent set of rules for everyone to follow!

    I have recently discovered your blog and am enjoying exploring it.

    on January 26th, 2008 at 1:53 am
  2. I have this one to listen to on CD. I’m hoping to find some quiet time soon!

    on January 26th, 2008 at 6:34 am
  3. I enjoyed your review. This book looks very worthwhile and I love Newbery books.

    on January 26th, 2008 at 9:56 am
  4. I loved this book, especially having just previously read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (from the point of view of an autistic boy). Great insight and balance between the two books.

    Visiting your blog for the first time, via Semicolon’s Saturday Review. I like the clean look you have here and am looking forward to more browsing.

    on January 26th, 2008 at 1:20 pm
  5. I really liked the friendship between Catherine and Jason, and how she made the picture cards for him.

    Enjoy your trip through the Newberys! I’ll check at Semicolon to see which ones you’re reading.

    on January 26th, 2008 at 4:11 pm
  6. Maureen – thanks!

    Amy – I wish I had some long car trips ahead of me, so I could listen to more audio books!

    Framed – I see you’re from Utah, me too!

    Mindy – I just picked up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the library today. Will start reading tomorrow! Thanks for enjoying my blog.

    Julie – My husband is an artist, I enjoyed how she liked to draw. Stay up to date with my reviews by subscribing to my RSS feed through your favorite reader or by email!

    To all – I always add comment droppers to my reader and have done so with you. I look forward to many great reviews and recommendations. Thanks!

    on January 26th, 2008 at 10:28 pm
  7. Even though I’m an adult, I’m adding this one to my book list right away! I have a special interest in autism and used to work with children with autism. Thanks for the recommendation!

    on January 27th, 2008 at 4:07 pm
  8. [...] reviews What is What by Dave Eggers and Rules by Cynthia [...]

    on March 6th, 2008 at 7:14 pm
  9. I have read Rules. It is a great book for anyone who needs to sit back and relax. I am in fourth grade and I know a variety of people who read rules ageing (I don’t know how to spell that) from 9-24! It’s amazing how this book spreads around the world.

    on May 18th, 2008 at 12:35 pm
  10. I read “Rules” for a summer reading report and I thought it was verry good. The cover is what caught my attention. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but the bright-blue fish tank stood uot among all the other books. Anyways, I would definetely reccommend this book to people of all ages.

    on August 18th, 2008 at 8:49 am
  11. i read rules and i was woundering were is the setting and the date ofthe book i am in the 6th grade and i really liked the book please answer as soon as possible

    on August 26th, 2008 at 11:14 am
  12. [...] the Newbery Honor book Rules, has been kind enough to stop by for a great author interview!  Read my book review of Rules and then make your way back here for some awesome [...]

    on September 5th, 2008 at 2:09 pm
  13. I loved this book. I also am a fan of the review. And I am thoroughly enjoying I saw a similar review on
    You should definitely check it out

    on September 9th, 2008 at 2:47 pm
  14. I am doing a report on this, and i love the bond between Jason and Catherine! They are so close to each other and they are so nice too! Especially with the cards!

    on December 16th, 2008 at 5:04 pm
  15. Lauren – Well, make sure you check out the interview with Cynthia Lord as well:

    on December 16th, 2008 at 9:14 pm
  16. I read the book Rules and I love the book! I especially love the connection between Jason and Catherine. I’m in the 6th grade and I am in the process of writing a book report for the book Rules and if I say so myself, this book is great for children to read. The point-of-view is very educational for all to read!!!

    on February 17th, 2009 at 5:02 pm
  17. Oh, and also, I’m the person from up above, I recommend this book for children 3rd grade and up. IT IS VERY GOOD!!!!!

    on February 17th, 2009 at 5:03 pm
  18. i loved this book it was the best book in the world and i need summarys today plz comment

    on February 21st, 2009 at 3:10 pm
  19. Graham – While I’d love to help you out with your book report, I don’t believe in doing it for you. For help on what you need to do, to summarize a book, this is a good article:

    on February 21st, 2009 at 3:26 pm
  20. I read “rules” and its a great book!! i think cynthia lord did a great job on this book! i never read a good book than “rules” I think u (the reader readin this) should read rules!!

    on February 23rd, 2009 at 7:44 pm
  21. This book is a beautiful one. Cheers for Cynthia! It was worth reading. Me and my husband, John read it out to our 9 year-old child. Our child has autism also, so it was very touching. Although she may not understand the book, she’ll at least understand she’s still one of us. At first when we found out Lauren had autism she was just 3 years old. I was torn to pieces, but I am certainly glad she’s here with us today and that her brother is here with her to enjoy. This book relates to our family a lot because Lauren’s brother, Matthew gets annoyed with Lauren because she needs more time from us. Any how, this book is a must read! It touched us at the very bottom of our heart.

    on March 17th, 2009 at 7:19 pm
  22. i’m a boy, but i still think the book is really good. although the covr looks like girls kind it is a great one to read. I have auntism too when I was jus 5!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!evryone is beautiful no matter what. my mom said from- Don (11 year old)
    Hi there, I am Mary. That was a little comment from my son. He is adorable. I love him dearly. Cindy I completely agree with you, this story is beautiful. Finally, a friendly, touching, loving book about autism. You have to read Rules by Cynthia Lord. It is beyond spectacular.

    on March 17th, 2009 at 7:25 pm
  23. Well hello there ya’ll! I know someone who has autism-my neighbor. He’s an angel I tell ya. He’s just like a grandson to me. Very close to me to. What ya think about buying the book for his birthday? Maybe I’ll read it too. Please state all your comments. He’s only 10 by the way.

    on March 17th, 2009 at 7:29 pm
  24. Hey well i actually read this book but it really openened my eyes it was really thankful for Catherine trying to make David’s life easier. So i really recomend YOU!!!!!! to read this probably it will catch your eyes just like, well i guess this is it I have to get back to my homework i have a lot see ya later alligators but guess what hope i can see trying to help other people, if you are right now well i’m sure god would appreciate you for what you’ve have done

    P.S Read the book its interesting
    Ana Luisa Valadez

    on May 6th, 2009 at 5:35 pm
  25. I already read this book but your par. are AWESOME. really i coundn’t put them in my own words that good.

    on June 10th, 2009 at 1:59 pm
  26. srry i foprgot a few words you r a awesome person to wright this …but ill tell you later i wish you already read this but did u or not well i did am i am in fourth grade i hope you love this book as much as i did if you want you can go to my website at ( this book is not to hard but not to easy i am so glad that jason an cathern got to be really good freinds Dont For Get To Wright me back

    on June 10th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
  27. Thank you all for your kind comments about the book.

    on June 12th, 2009 at 7:22 pm
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    on December 4th, 2009 at 8:39 pm
  29. this is an AWESOME book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    on April 5th, 2010 at 1:54 pm
  30. I loved this book and i recamend it to everyone! I usally do not like to read but this was a book that i really liked!! I am doing my book report on it! I was just wondering where is the setting?!

    on April 12th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
  31. Ok , so this book is amazing . i enjoyed reading this book . it kept me detailed and interested . there wasn’t a dull moment in this book .

    on September 8th, 2010 at 2:23 pm
  32. i love this book and i love the author too

    on January 25th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

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