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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH


by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Theme of Language and Communication

We're guessing that, since you're here, you probably care about reading a lot. But do you care about it as much as the characters in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH do? For Nicodemus and Co., reading is about much more than simply learning a story. For them, reading provides them with hope and, eventually, the means to escape from NIMH and all its horrors. Still, even though reading gives them so much, it also proves to be a burden to the rats, as they realize that their new knowledge and skills mean that they will never fit in with others of their kind again. Knowledge may be power, but it can be a bummer, too.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Do you think that learning to read and write was more positive or more negative for the rats? Why do you feel this way?
  2. The rats use their reading skills to gain their freedom. Can you think of instances in your life where reading and writing has helped you to feel like you are freer?
  3. Or, can you think of any historical figures that have used these skills to help them gain freedom? 
  4. Do you agree that reading is "using pictures to suggest an image or idea," as Nicodemus does? Do your memories of learning how to read resemble the memories that Nicodemus has of learning how to read?
  5. Why do you think the scientists at NIMH wanted to train the rats to read? Do you think they ever imagined that their plan could backfire?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Learning how to read was the worst thing to ever happen to the rats. Without reading, they would have been content to sit in their cages at NIMH, happy and well fed.

The best thing that could ever have happened to the rats was learning how to read. Once they learned how to read, they had the tools to change their lives for the better.

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