One of my favorite novels that I read in graduate school was "Rules". Written by Cynthia Lord, the cover's front and back grabbed my attention immediately. There is a rubber ducky in the fish tank on the front and on the back there are various rules written including "No toys in the fish tank". Continue reading for my summary and review of "Rules".
"Rules" is about a twelve year-old girl named Catherine who has a brother with autism. She is often embarrassed by him and tries to teach him life "rules". She even writes them in a book so he won't forget them. Catherine meets some new friend and realizes she is overreacting to her brother's actions. She also meets a boy at her brothers' therapy sessions who speaks using pictures. To communicate with him, she ends up creating cards for him related to things she thinks people their age would want to talk about in addition to what the therapist has created for him. They become friends as well. Throughout the novel, Catherine begins to change her perspective about her brother and others with disabilities, and becomes more accepting of others' differences.
I enjoyed this novel because it was written from the perspective of a child who has a sibling with a disability. This reminded me of when I worked at a summer camp and we would have in-services as well as surveys for siblings of children with disabilities to determine what insights they had and teach them about helping their siblings. Also, we would invite them to the camp to work and play with their siblings. This way, we not only had a relationship with the parents but also the siblings. This novel definitely shows the everyday life and frustrations that a child with a sibling who has autism may have. The novel also has humor in it as well as a message of acceptance. It is perfect for a therapists' collection as well as for any parent of a child with autism I definitely recommend reading it!