How Rude!

The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out

How Rude!: The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out is a wacky, comprehensive, and insightful etiquette book that shows teens how to use good manners to build fulfilling relationships, get what they want out of life, feel good about themselves, and save society from a total manners meltdown.

While many etiquette books are preachy, boring, and dull, How Rude!, a practical but hilarious “how to” in the age of “whatever,” keeps teens laughing as they learn the basics of polite behavior in all kinds of situations—at home, at school, in public, online, with friends, with strangers, on the phone, in conversations, in cars, on planes, on the bus, at interviews, and anywhere they go.

Recognized for its humor and accessibility, no other etiquette book for teens comes close to How Rude!’s breadth of content. Teens learn how to offer someone their seat; be a host with the most (and a guest with the best); deal with rude adults; go online without getting out of line; dress for any occasion; deal with cyberbullying; master the proper techniques for civilized spitting, scratching, sneezing, yawning, hiccupping, nose-picking, and much more. Advice is detailed and nuanced, but explained with a light and humorous touch that makes for easy and entertaining reading.

Addressing teens with respect and warmth, and using a wide range of “bite-sized” formats to get its message across, How Rude! breaks the world of teenagers into easy-to-digest chapters on different areas of their lives: school, family, relationships, social media, friendship and romance, public settings and rituals, communications, personal hygiene, etc.

Humorous explanations, cartoons, tables, charts, reproducible etiquette do’s and don’ts, goofy chapter quizzes, and hundreds of “Dear Alex” Q&As cover everything from texting to tweeting, dating to breaking up, ethnic jokes to rude posts, thank you notes to table manners. “True Stories from the Manners Frontier” divulge the shocking consequences of not having good manners. Survey results reveal what teens, parents, and teachers think about manners and why they’re important. At 500 pages, How Rude! is an encyclopedic reference. Yet its humorous style, irreverence, breezy presentation formats, and detailed index led to its receiving awards as a “Popular Paperback for Young Adults” and a “Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” from the American Library Association.   


Book for the Teen Age
— New York Public Library
Popular Paperback for Young Adults
— American Library Association/YALSA
Quick Pick
— American Library Association/YALSA

Praise for How Rude!

The first edition of this etiquette guide for teens, published in 1997, is now itself a teenager. This updated edition tackles social media, Google, and the ubiquity of cell phones, travel post 9/11, cyberbullying, and online gaming—but the heart of the book remains the same. Packer explains what good manners are and why they are important, covering hundreds of situations and offering brief, lighthearted advice on how to maneuver them with proper behavior. From introductions to thank-you notes to asking someone to a movie (or the opera) to food shopping to email to hygiene, Packer has sensible if strict advice on how to behave. His style is reminiscent of a smart, slightly silly uncle giving guidance with good cheer. There are many lists, bullet points, and charts. Most topics are covered in a pithy page or two, with small cartoons scattered throughout. Packer conducted three online surveys to gather information from teens, parents, and teachers, and some pages of survey results are presented in appropriate chapters. Packer also tells “True Stories from the Manners Frontier”; these tales of bad manners are enclosed in sidebars at least once per chapter. This is a fun guide that teens may dip into when facing a confounding situation, and Packer’s good nature and good sense make it a useful book for most collections, including those that already own the original version.
— School Library Journal
It is difficult to make a topic like etiquette seem relevant and appealing to teenagers, but that is exactly what Packer accomplishes. Drawing heavily on surveys of teens, parents, and teachers to target which situations were most pertinent, the opening chapters successfully sell the importance of manners to both the individual and society. ‘Dear Alex’ sidebars offer advice for common conundrums and provide suggestions in an honest and humorous way. The text acknowledges social mores for other cultures and discusses the changeable nature of etiquette depending on context. Packer widens the scope of etiquette far beyond please and thank you, exploring the best way to handle oneself in a variety of social situations. This is advice on issues that teens care about, such as gossip, classroom courtesy, clothing choices, and unwritten rules of polite driving. First released in 1997, this second edition is packed with 17 years’ worth of new statistics and scenarios, including many about technology.
— Booklist

The following reviews were for the original How Rude! The new, revised and updated How Rude! is even better! 

Excellent book for all ages. Written with humor, energy, and style, ‘How Rude!’ made me laugh page by page. Teens can learn from this book, and so can their parents. Plus, they can laugh at the same time. A wonderful book, and a unique one as well. Alex Packer has a style that both teens and adults will enjoy.
— Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., Author, Psychiatrist, and ADHD Expert
Surprisingly simple ways for teens to respond to and interact with people to get the best results.
— Youthworker
The most incredibly readable, enjoyable, laughable, enlightening, and insightful book. … ‘How Rude!’ deserves to be widely read by teenagers and adults alike.
— Voice of Youth Advocates
This volume should be considered ahead of any traditional etiquette book for YAs. They will return to it again and again as they face new and different situations.
— School Library Journal
Although manners aren’t high on any teen’s list of things to read about, this volume not only uses humor to make the subject palatable but also makes good sense in terms of most young people’s everyday lives. Whether the topic is rude noises, table manners, or squabbles over the TV remote, Packer has a word or two to say, managing to get the point across without scolding or haranguing. The text is nicely broken up by cartoons, boldface headings, goofy chapter quizzes, and survey results. For reference it’s first rate.
— Booklist
This is one fast-paced, fun-to-read book that covers the basics of good behavior for teens. But before you dismiss it with a roll of your eyes and a huge yawn (now that’s rude!), just one look at the table of contents will convince you that ‘How Rude!’ isn’t your grandma’s guidebook. This is a wonderfully hip and humorous, easy read.
— College Bound Magazine


Those are some reviews from publications and library associations. But what do people down in the trenches with teens have to say about How Rude!? Nobody is more “down in the trenches” than teens themselves, so let’s start with a few comments from young readers.

Here’s one from an especially charming youth:    

…School manners, family manners, talking manners, walking manners, eating manners, greeting manners: this book teaches all the manners in the world and then some. It’s a well written book, and the quizzes are especially good. …If you want a book to get a teenager like me back on track, ‘How Rude!’ is the book to get.

And here’s another from a delightfully wise and witty young reader:

Picture this scene: It’s your birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever. Your parents tell you that they think you should be working on your manners, and that this present will probably help you. ‘Oh great,’ you think. ‘It’s probably some boring, dumb, etiquette video or book.’ Well, that’s wrong if the present you receive is ‘How Rude!’ Unlike other dull, preachy, and boring etiquette books... , what makes this book so much more fun, so much more exciting, and so much more willing to learn your manners is that it has humor in it. This book discusses manners for nearly every situation in life. In addition, this book covers topics that you typically wouldn’t find in etiquette books, such as clothes, school, romance, Internet safety and manners, and sex. (So, it would be best to give this book to someone who’s at least 12-13 years old—maybe 11, if they’re mature enough.) All in all, ‘How Rude!’ is the best, most effective etiquette guide to buy for any teenager. You’ll learn good manners that will help you throughout the rest of your life.

This next astute reviewer, going by the handle “soda man,” reminisces about ye olde days of middle school.

This really is a wonderful book. I came across it when I was in middle school in the local library, and fell in love with it. Can you imagine—a 12-13-year-old kid falling in love with a book on MANNERS? This book is super easy to read, and FUNNY. It shows ... just how valuable manners are in society. You really get far by being polite, even if something upsets you. I HIGHLY recommend this book to ANYONE, even adults. Even if you’re 30 or 40, this book will help you.

Here’s another adult who found her way down memory lane.

My Godmother purchased this book for me when I was 11 years old. I am now 25 and ‘How Rude!’ is the most dog-eared book in my library (huge sections have fallen out from all the wear and tear I’ve put it through). ‘How Rude!’ is excellently written for pre-teens and teenagers alike. The advice Mr. Packer dispenses is never condescending, preachy, or dumbed-down. I still remember which silverware (or flatware) to use in a six-course meal, what’s the polite way to borrow my parents’ car (in the same condition you found it, driver’s seat in the same position, with a full tank of gas), and the best time to arrive at a party (on time - never too early or too late).

I especially enjoy hearing from parents with special-needs children, as well as teachers, counselors, doctors, and other youth care professionals who have found How Rude! helpful with their students and clients.

Thank you, Dr. Packer. I am a Jr. High school teacher and I purchased this book as a resource for my advisory class. This class is focused mainly on education/occupation planning. ‘How Rude!’ is an excellent way to introduce a little bit of manners into the lives of my students. This book is so funny they hardly realize they are learning proper manners. We have had some amazing discussions. ... I see so many students ... who just don’t seem to know what behaviors are right in certain situations. ‘How Rude!’ has made it so easy to start talking with students about behaviors and expectations without actually giving them the ‘proper manners’ lecture.
Great for Asperger’s kids. After searching everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE I came across How Rude! on an Aspergers website. It is difficult to find books for Asperger’s kids that keep them engaged, make them laugh and educate them in the mysterious ways of the social world. I can’t talk highly enough about ‘How Rude!’ I tell everyone about it.
The most popular book in my waiting room. This is easily the most popular book in my waiting room. I see both parents and adolescents looking at it and laughing. It is actually an etiquette book, but Emily Post would probably run away screaming if she saw this one. The author uses amusing “stories from the manners frontier” and fictional anecdotes. Some parents may be “grossed out” by examples of what not to do in public. Still, the message to the adolescent is clear. It is in your own best interest to be polite, courteous and responsible. That is ultimately the best way to get what you want.
One of the best books out there about appropriate behavior. I recommend this book all the time to my clients. It’s hysterically funny yet educational. It’s well organized and has great little sidebar features.
Excellent for Asperger’s and ADHD teens. [While] this book is dense with content … the information is presented in nuggets—tips, anecdotes, letters, questions, paragraphs, cartoons, diagrams, even math formulas—so it’s super for readers with a short attention span who like to “graze” through a book. It’s easy to pick up and just read a page or two, then put it down. The humour makes the ideas accessible and keeps up interest. Some of it’s hilarious.
Highest praise for How Rude!! Parents of Asperger’s Syndrome teens and preteens: This is the answer to your prayers! Do you need a way to teach your child the rules for social behaviors? This book covers it all, but best of all the author has a great sense of humor that really reaches kids. I bought it and just left it out. My teen with Asperger’s was bringing it to me to share what he was reading. This is as effective as any social skills group we’ve attended. My neurotypical kid loves it too! Alex J Packer is hilarious, and makes learning manners a riot on every page.

And now, may we have a moment of silence—a parents’ most cherished wish—in honor of all those parents who value manners and have the wisdom and guile to place a copy of How Rude! within the radar range of their offspring. 


Okay. Enough silence. Now let’s hear what these parents have to say.

7th grader loves this book! My husband bought this book as a present for our daughter last year when he was away on a trip. She does NOT like to read, it is always a problem getting her to read for class, so it was a great surprise to me that she is reading this book and LOVES it! It gives good advice on how to respond in different difficult situations, with acceptable responses according to my daughter. She states I give dorky advice, she tells her brother don’t say what Mom says you will be a wimp, etc. The best recommendation I can give is that my 13-year-old thinks it is great and the advice from a parent’s view is appropriate and well mannered, yet acceptable from a teenager’s point of view.
Need a laugh? I purchased this book for my 17-year-old son. …I struggled with trying to find a book that might capture his attention and be fun enough for him to read and enjoy. …He has thoroughly enjoyed the book and has found it fun and full of laughter. I totally recommend it as an incentive to read and also as a way to teach our children things they might not get through traditional schooling.
Great Resource for Real Kids. I ordered this book for my nephew (12) and my daughter (14) and I think it’s going to be a really good resource for both of them. … The author offers sensible advice, and it goes down well because of his wacky sense of humor and breezy writing style. The book covers an amazing range of etiquette—from where to find the fish fork to how to ask a girl out or turn down a date to how to start and carry on conversations, with lots of fun, memorable examples along the way. He doesn’t pretend that teenagers have never heard of sex, but far from promoting sex, his advice includes such statements as, ‘Nothing ruins a good relationship like sex,’ and ‘Immature, insensitive people shouldn’t be having sex.’
Excellent book. When my son was approaching his 12th birthday, he was forgetting the good manners he had before—everything was a “joke” for him. I was afraid he could be offending people, friends, with his behavior. I gave him this book for his birthday. When he read the title How Rude! he got mad. Later, I saw him taking this book to his room and reading it. … A week later he confessed that this was a great book and he thanked me for it. Any guidance from parents sounds like “nagging.” This book guides teenagers (and pre-teens) giving them good tips. Needless to say, my son improved a lot—he’s back to “normal” and we all read this book because it is very funny. I highly recommend it.
A HIT!!! With a bit of trepidation, we gave this book to our 18-year-old niece 3 days before Christmas with the request that she read sections to the whole gang prior to each large family meal (which traditionally lacked basic “please” and “thank you”). Little did we know that these readings would bring loads of laughter, fun and, by the time we sat down to our Christmas meal, impeccable manners by young and old (ages 7-70) alike! We strongly recommend this book. In regards to the section on sex, we found it innocuous, brief and appropriate.
My grandson asked for a copy. My fifth grade grandson asked for a copy of this book after reading through parts of it at a friend’s home. … Since he began reading we have all seen noticeable improvement in how he relates to both other youth and adults around him.
Works for Us! I have three boys who think the funniest thing in the world is a colossal burp at the table. I bought this book and read it. It hits right to the heart of the matter. As I read to the boys at the table, “It’s okay to tell jokes and be silly, but it’s not okay to belch, burp, and stick straws up your nose. I started by randomly picking a page at dinner and reading or relating the topic. Most of the time we end up laughing and talking about other rude behaviors. Sometimes the pages we read are initiated by an activity at the table (burping, reaching, talking with your mouth full), and sometimes it is initiated by something that happened that day (someone got pushed, received a gift they didn’t really like, etc.). We do this at dinner most nights (for a very short period—after all it would be rude to monopolize the conversation—as my boys have pointed out). I knew it was working when the mother of one of my son’s friends called and said that he had had such a good time at dinner (at our house) and came home telling his family the polite way to ask for and pass food around the table. She wanted the book!
Favorite Christmas Gift. This past Christmas, I bought this book for my 11-year-old daughter as well as five other 11-12-year-olds (both female and male) on our list. It has been the most appreciated and talked about gift of the year by both kids and their parents.
Why good manners makes your life easier, not more difficult. Question: What teenager would be interested in reading a 465-page book on manners? Answer: Just about any one who is holding a copy of How Rude! I’m so delighted by this book. I’m a father of four, and as I read How Rude! I asked myself, “What is it that makes this book so effective?” Perhaps it’s the simple practicality of its message. The main point is that it’s in your own best interests to use good manners … : “Adjust your requests and behavior to the emotions and needs of others. This is not only a cornerstone of politeness, but also a way to increase the chances that your requests will be granted.” Perhaps it works so well because it concerns the things teenagers obsess about, such as how to be popular, how to get your parents to let you do what you want, what to do about braces, how to handle friendship problems, and how to get a date. It even talks about when it is OK not to use good manners. The section headings reflect the fascination youth of all ages have: “Things you do to your body” and “Things your body does to you” and “The blended, shaken, stirred or mixed family,” and “Sex-ediquette.” Maybe what makes this book work so well for kids is Packer’s dead-on humor, with just the right amount of grossness so that you can’t quite turn away. It’s a fast-paced kaleidoscope of quips, anecdotes, lists, jokes, and chummy advice. There’s no way to lose interest, because it’s so juicy and fun. I challenge anyone to open the book to any page and not find some undeniably useful tidbits. It’s a great book for teens, of course, but it’s also a great book for parents who are looking for ways of talking about manners with their kids.
A hilarious, practical must-read for teens and adults alike. If ever there’s a book on manners that teenagers would actually read and enjoy, this has got to be it. I began to read it during a car trip and was laughing so much that my teenagers in the back seat demanded to see what I was reading. I gave them the book. That was three days ago and they haven’t put it down yet. The brilliance of the book is that it acknowledges that teens should use good manners, not only because it is right and respectful, but because it is also in their best interests to be polite and appropriate. How Rude! never talks down to kids. While the content is serious and exhaustive, it is presented in a fast-paced, hilarious, “MTV” style. The author covers virtually everything teens might need to know or be glad that they learned.