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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  57,701 ratings  ·  5,075 reviews
This Newbery Honor Book is a heartfelt and witty story about feeling different and finding acceptance--beyond the rules.

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
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Scholastic Press (first published 2006)
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Tana Lovegood of Dumbledore's Army✞~ Rogers/America Hi! I read this book back in 5th grade and I enjoyed it very much! I read Harry Potter and also Because of Winn Dixie. This book is very heartfelt and…moreHi! I read this book back in 5th grade and I enjoyed it very much! I read Harry Potter and also Because of Winn Dixie. This book is very heartfelt and honest it gave me the same feeling when I read Because of Winn Dixie. I do recommend it and it's a really sincere and sweet book. (less)
skye It is from his sister's POV because in Wonder, Auggie only has facial deformities but no brain damage. In this book David, the main character has auti…moreIt is from his sister's POV because in Wonder, Auggie only has facial deformities but no brain damage. In this book David, the main character has autism, which prohibits his brain from functioning well enough to write an entire book from his perspective. His sister does an amazing job of relaying her feelings of being in public with her autistic brother and how that affects her relationships with family and friends.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  57,701 ratings  ·  5,075 reviews

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Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kids who have relatives with autism
This is a quick read, I read it in about a week or so. It is a VERY good book! What I liked best about the book, is how Cynthia Lord(the author) really understands how it's like to live with people with autism. I know this because she came to my school, and I met her. I liked how the book was about a who has the same experiences that I do, having a sibling with autism. I don't just recommend only people with relatives with autism to read this, I recommend everyone reading it. I have shared it wi ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've been trying to think of the best way to talk about this book. I read it in a night and then forced it upon my mother -who hardly ever makes the time to read- and she finished it in a night. Someday, when my sister is ready, I will have her read it too. This book was so sweet, and at moments, heart-wrenching. It's a simple story about a young girl who wants to be known for herself - not David's sister. Her eight-year-old brother has autism and because of his special needs, often takes the at ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

You can always tell when you're reading a book that has a basis in truth. With RULES, author Cynthia Lord writes about what it's like to live with autism, and she should know, since she has an autistic child.

That ring of truth is there, in every word, when you read the story of twelve-year old Catherine and her autistic younger brother, David.David hates loud noises. If there's a cloud in the sky, he has to take his red umbrella with him. If his dad says he'll
Courtney Smith
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autism
If I could be objective, I would probably give this book a higher rating. My son with Autism read this book with his 5th grade class. One would normally identify with the main character of this book, 12-year-old Catherine whose younger brother, David, has Autism. I can't help but wonder, though, if my son identified with David (being that my son is a younger brother with Autism). It makes me cringe to think this as Catherine is clearly embarrassed by David. At one point, she even compares him to ...more
Apr 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Horrible book, as a person with autism I am completely sick of how people constantly use the victim mentality when referring to their children or siblings with autism. It also enforces many stereotypes of those with autism, most of which are untrue or completely uneducated. Frankly speaking, it disgusts me. If this book had been well written it may have gotten two stars at the most. Horribly written, bad plot, poorly researched, and disgustingly ableist. All and all a horrible book.
Mike Mullin
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So, I've owned this book for more than a year but never gotten around to reading it. When I saw it had been challenged, I figured I'd read it to try to understand why.

Here's why RULES got challenged: some people are effing crazy. This is a beautifully written, touching story about a family that happens to include an autistic kid. Catherine, the 12-year-old protagonist, is portrayed realistically, with a pitch-perfect kid's voice. She grows through the story, coming to better accept the differenc
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
"Rules", by Cynthia Lord, is told from the perspective of Catherine, the 12-year-old sister of David, an autistic 8-year-old. Catherine, at 12, is dealing with finding a place in a family that seems to be centered around coping with David's needs for comfort and development. Catherine's mom is divided between managing a home business (leaving Catherine to care for David) and providing David the care and developmental therapy he needs. Catherine's dad seems to be mostly coping with his own diffic ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Moe by: My Extended ELA teacher
I love when teachers make you read books that you can't choose to read. I guess that its good for kids who don't read at all. But hate to break it to you, this book...


If they're trying to get kids to read, you just made it sure they won't read another word except "pizza" or "video games".I can not believe I am wasting my precious time on this book. Go and read it. See what I mean. Out of all the fabulous books like Harry Potter or Hunger Games they had to pick a book about a girl who can'
4.5* rounded up

It's difficult having a brother with autism, and sometimes 12-year-old Catherine wants out.

Oops I did it again
I let books mess with my heart
Got lost in the game
Oh baby baby

I love the characters in this story!
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rules, by author Cynthia Lord, is a touching look at the life of a young girl, Catherine, who's coping with the conflicting emotions of living with her autistic brother, David. And I was coping with the conflicting emotions of annoyance and boredom of reading this book.

Catherine, a normal 12 year old girl, has a huge role and responsibility in the care-taking of her autistic brother, David. Catherine must balance the love and the responsibility she feels for David with the embarrassment and res
Rebecca Maye Holiday
It's been a long time since I've read Rules. This was the first book I ever purchased with my own money from the Scholastic book orders back when I was nine years old (back when you could still get a brand-new paperback novel for four bucks, including tax, now I feel old), and the story always stood out to me. For one thing, it's about autism, but from the standpoint of a sibling of a severely autistic child. This is something which often goes ignored in fiction, which is unfortunate. I grew up ...more
Victoria Croteau
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Victoria Croteau
28 September 2016
Although the assignment due was to write a feminist book review, the book I read had really nothing to do with feminism at all. In Rules by Cynthia Lord, the main focus is on the main character, Catherine, and how she gets through simple day to day tasks with her autistic brother, David, by her side. In the beginning, Catherine explains how her brother does not understand a lot of things that may come naturally to most. For example, David’s father always tells
Nov 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
Well, this was a nice book - a story about a girl trying to come to grips with her autistic brother (and her parents who do everything for him and nothing for her) and her friendship with a boy with cerebral palsy. It kept my interest. But it seemed artifical - I mean, she is driven crazy by the brother, but she chooses to befriend the boy who is even more challenged? And the voice is that of a girl MUCH younger than the main character is supposed to be. Further, nothing is all that resolved, ex ...more
Ashley Cook
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ashley Cook
Women’s Lit Honors
September 28, 2016

As if trying to figure out who you are is not hard enough at the age of twelve, main character Catherine, is trying to create who her brother is. Protagonist of “Rules” by Cynthia Lord, struggles with anxiety and the fear of what others may think about her because of her autistic brother, David. As a way to shield the realities behind this struggle, Catherine creates rules for her brother to memorize and follow. The authors purpose is to
Amber J
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“When someone is upset, it’s not a good time to bring up your own problems.”
― Cynthia Lord, Rules

I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you.

This is a book about a girl named Catherine, who's brother is autistic. She wants to live a normal life and make friends with the girl who just moved in next door. She ends up also making friends with Jason.

Kylie Bean
Jul 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is highly offensive to anyone with a disability or any sort of neurodivergence, but especially autistic people. I do not recommend. It is ableist, misrepresentative, and frankly disheartening.
Ashley Cook
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ashley Cook
Women’s Lit Honors
September 28, 2016

As if trying to figure out who you are is not hard enough at the age of twelve, main character Catherine, is trying to create who her brother is. Protagonist of “Rules” by Cynthia Lord, struggles with anxiety and the fear of what others may think about her because of her autistic brother, David. As a way to shield the realities behind this struggle, Catherine creates rules for her brother to memorize and follow. The authors purpose is to
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I didn't like this book that much.

Now, I read this years ago so my memory is pretty spotty. Partially because I didn't care that much for this book.

I read it for summer reading and it was tolerable enough to sit through, not like the Underneath where I had to drop the book because I just couldn't stand it.

However, it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

Firstly, the autistic brother, David, was really, really pushed to the side. He is shown as nothing but an embarrassment and annoyance
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading RULES for the second time, and I loved the characters even more this time around. This is a funny, touching book about a girl coming to terms with her brother's disability and what it means to their family life. It's a fantastic book for the classroom, with lots of opportunities for extension activities and discussion (and in the September Scholastic Book Order for $3.95). ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I like how in all of Cynthia Lord's books, there is a saying before every chapter.
I liked how the main character had a brother with autism because I had never really read a book like that before. I recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic fiction or just a good, quick and funny read.
Shayne Bauer
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really heartfelt story that helps readers understand the strain that autism puts on an entire family. I enjoyed the array of characters and how they deal with the disability. There are those who are understanding, frustrated, confused, sympathetic, and downright mean--which is so authentic!

I attended Cynthia Lord's author session at the Dublin Literacy Conference this year where she spoke about writing this book. It went through twelve revisions! I was anxious to read the book, as it
Oct 16, 2019 added it
it was very good overall! at some points, scenes would be unnecessary or boring but it was a great read.
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Catherine's little brother is autistic. She has to have rules for him since he doesn't act like he's supposed to. Rules like Pantless brothers are not my problem or No toys in the fish tank hence the cover. As you can see there is a rubber ducky in the fish tank. There are other things that get in there because of David and Catherine makes up what they are saying there. Catherine has Rules of her own too. She has to constantly make sure her brother doesn't embarrass himself well more like her. S ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I finally got my hands on RULES by Cynthia Lord, and I read it in one sitting. The narrator, Catherine, genuinely seems twelve. Her mannerisms and thoughts ring true, especially her artistic view on life and her lists of rules to help both herself and her autistic brother David. Catherine has more than shallow run-of-the-mill problems to deal with, and yet she's easy to identify with. In less capable hands, the story could have come across saccharine or depressing. Lord pulls it off in a way tha ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was really incredible. I read it in one sitting. I was glad that Lord didn't shy away Catherine's difficult and conflicted feeling about having an autistic brother. I thought the relationship she built between Catherine and Jason was natural and touching.

I think Catherine is also a really relate-able character on a more general level. I haven't experienced any of what went on in Catherine's family life, but her propensity for daydreaming and getting her hopes up about a frie
Such delight! This touching, funny story -- a quick, compelling read for a sunny afternoon -- is both respectful and adorably irreverent. Catherine is the voice of a wise, practical observer whose perspective has been sharpened by life with her autistic brother and her disabled friend.

There is nothing here which is inappropriate for any reader of any age; and there is much here that is valuable for everyone, whether or not they know or are related to people who have autism or any other physical
Jan 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one involved in AAC or sibling relationships
Shelves: youth
Lord may know about autism from a mother's pov, but she does not from a sibling's. Trust me, we're talking vast differences. Further, her scenes with augmentative and alternative communication were horrible. She clearly did no research at all, or else this boy would received an appropriate dynamic display device. The single realistic thing I found in this novel was the flighty blonde bimbo speech therapist.

Such is the opinion of this former speech therapist, a ten year veteran leader of workshop
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book to help my grandson with his Battle of the Books assignment. We can discuss the characters and the important points of the story together now.

I enjoyed the characters in the story and the RULES very much. I hope my grandson cares about Carherine and her little brother, David, as much as I do now. I have never met a person like Jason before but I am pleased that this story has given me an insight into what someone without words faces every day. I learned that just because someon
Feb 19, 2010 added it
I read this for a book club book and it was about a girl whose brother had autism and he was very embarrasing. (at least to her) it taught me some lessons about honestly and much more!
Thais Morimoto (tatakizi)
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book in ages that I've finished in one sitting and I'm really happy about it!!

I've started reading this book last year when I received it, but I couldn't finished. Maybe the time wasn't right and I wasn't in the mood. However, yesterday I felt like picking this one up and I just cound't put it down!

This story is so true, raw, realisitic and touching! I have a cousin that has autism, so I know how David was going through. Of course that some of Chaterine's atitudes toards his b
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