If your kids are anything like mine, they get a mischievous glint in their eye at the idea of breaking the rules – especially when a grown-up is in on it with them. C’mon, Dads, I know you know that look. The one they give you when Mom is out for the evening and you let them have Lucky Charms with chocolate milk on top for dinner? A you have a bowl too? And you agree to never tell Mom? Yeah. That look.
I love books that get kids breaking the rules – or even just thinking about rules in a new way. For your mischief makers big and small, here’s a smattering of my favorite rule-breakers.
Don’t Make Me Laugh by James Stevenson is the best book of this kind I’ve come across. The main character, a crocodile named Mr. Frimdimpny, has a few rules for you. Like don’t smile, don’t laugh, and don’t tickle the waiter! Break the rules and you’ll have to go back to the beginning of the book! My kids want us to read this over and over and over again.
My 4-year-old’s favorite has to be Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter.
In this book, Larry the monster is soooo tempted to see what happens if you push the button. And if pushing it once is good, won’t it be even more fun to push it a bunch of times? The illustrations are bright and funny, and the interactive nature of the book makes kids want to push Larry’s button again! This one will NOT sit on your shelf neglected after a few reads.
For kids who wonder why they can’t make the rules, A Rule is To Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy by John Seven is a heartfelt and adorable guide to following your own rules – as long as they are fair and kind. In its brightly colored pages, “Wild Child” expresses her
creativity, caring and joy and makes her own code of conduct. This book encourages children to challenge societal expectations and tradition and express themselves freely.
For a completely different look at breaking the rules and challenging tradition, introduce your older children to rule-breaking artists with Breaking The Rules: What is Contemporary Art? by Susan Goldman Rubin. Available through the Museum of Contemporary Art website, this amazing book explains with words and photos the ground-breaking works of modern artists who defy convention and even gravity.
Teen girls will enjoy The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin. This is the 2nd book in The Daughters series, and follows wealthy tom-boy Carina, who breaks a family rule and has to deal with the life-altering consequences. Written light and fluffy enough for a summer read, this book still tackles big issues like loyalty, choosing family’s rules or society’s rules, valuing what you have, and counting on friends.
Last but not least, a wonderful anthology for the YA crowd, featuring essays from many popular YA authors: Break These Rules is a must-read. For teens looking for validation that they, too, can break the rules, stand out, and be themselves, there is no book more recent and topical.
There are so many more funny, inspiring, and amazing rule-breaking books out there. Please leave me a comment with your favorites, including what age group you recommend it for and why. I look forward to hearing from you all!