Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

Clement’s narrative makes it so easy for American readers to relate to life in Afghanistan. Visit the publisher’s site at http://books.simonandschuster.com/Extra-Credit/Andrew-Clements/9781416949299 or Clement’s site at http://www.andrewclements.com/books.html


255 Responses to “Extra Credit by Andrew Clements”

  1. 1 Megan Blue December 1, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I thought that Extra Credit was a great story of two people from totally different places becoming friends. It was very interesting to see what life is like in Afghanistan in a way that was understandable by a young person. One of the things I really loved about the story was getting to see the two perspective and how it went back and forth between a day in America to a day in Afghanistan. The similarities and differences in the two were able to really be brought out by doing that. Also I think this book could be used in the classroom to inspire students to have pen pals even if it just someone from across town or another school. This book shows how much fun and how exciting it can be to send and receive letters from people, and within that you have a reading and writing activity.

    • 2 Jennifer Crist-Watson December 2, 2010 at 12:23 am

      I agree with Megan. The story would be great to incorporate into the classroom. The entire story revolves around two students from different countries writing to one another. The two characters, Sadeed and Abby, learn a lot about one another. They share there experiences living in different places, Afghanistan and Illinois, and learn about one another’s cultures. I believe this book would be a great way to encourage students to write a letter to someone or even find a pen pal of their own.

      • 3 Dana Fletcher December 9, 2012 at 2:26 am

        I agree with you, this book would encourage students to write a pen pal. It would be interesting to see what areas the children would pick for their pen pals to be from. I think is would be great for the children to compare their lifestyles with their pen pals. Dana Fletcher

      • 4 Jordan Welzel December 8, 2015 at 8:05 pm

        Jennifer, I think the pen pal idea would be great! I also thought of this idea. Being able to interact with another person/student from a different place around the world would offer that student a whole knew perspective outside of his/her own world. This would be a great story to include in the classroom and to branch off from with different assignments. Even if students are not able to reach out to a pen pal this story could be the base line of performing a research project.

    • 5 Jill Klaverweiden December 5, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      I also believe the pen pal thing would be something great to start in the classroom and school. I think that is something that can be easy to set up, as the teacher. Even if the students were not able to write to students from a different school they could at least write to students in a different grade at their own school. It is something that can have a lot of benefits for the students. There are a lot of things that can be taught as the students are doing the pen pal activity.
      I also agree that is was great to be able to see the difference from the day to day activities. It is a great way for the students to learn about another country and even another state within their own country. I think there are a lot of great things that can be done with the students if this book is used.

      • 6 Katie Perkins May 15, 2012 at 3:51 am

        I love the idea of pen pals, and always wanted to participate in that type of activity as a student. It is great for students to open the dialogue between cultures because it gives them ownership of their knowledge of different cultures. They provide questions concerning what they think is important, and consider important parts of their own lives in their responses. This self-reflection is an important part of social studies, and having the opportunity given so clearly through a book is great.

      • 7 Kaitlyn OCarroll April 18, 2016 at 4:46 pm

        I also love creating pen pals in the classroom. Students even at early ages can be involved in the process too. I do however, think that I would be more challenging for teachers to contact another teacher from outside of the United States. Although it can and has been done in the past, I just feel as though to recreate the idea of the book could be more challenging for todays teachers. I do agree with you that there are numerous benefits for the students to learn about another person and even themselves.

    • 8 AnneMarie McPherson December 13, 2010 at 12:45 am

      I agree with Megan that after reading this book it would be interesting to have each student write to a pen pal, especially from the different country. This would give students an authentic opportunity to learn about a new place, new cultures, and new ways of life all over the world. With the push and importance of promoting diversity in the classroom, I feel that this is a great and effective way to add more cultural rich experiences to the classroom.

    • 9 Christy South December 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm

      I agree with Megan the idea of doing pen pals even in a different area shows the differences and similarities we share. In the class, I was observing the students wrote to students also in second grade, but who live in Western Maryland the students were able to tell about things they enjoy here on the Eastern Shore like going to the beach, something many of us know well but people who live on the western shore may never get to experience or not as often as we do.

      • 10 Robyn Dozier December 7, 2012 at 12:53 am

        I think it is a good idea to have students in different areas across the state to be pen pals to see that even though they live in the same state there may be many differences between the different areas in the state.

      • 11 Sarah Perry December 12, 2012 at 1:51 am

        I think it would be interesting for the kids to write to each other telling about their favorite things. If they could start writing with particular topics in mind they could get more detailed information from each other.
        Sarah Perry

    • 12 Danielle Goldstein March 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      I agree that this book definitely supports having pen pals. I remember when I was younger I had a pen pal from another school in my area. I was so excited to get letters and talk to my new friend. I cannot even imagine how excited I would be to have a friend from the other side of the world. It would be such a great experience to have students talk to others across the world. I think it would actually help open children’s eyes and realize they are not that different after all. Through Extra Credit it is clear how both Abby and Sadeed both slowly realize how they are similar. They even learn to take their differences and make them a learning experience. Abby wanted to know how it felt to live near mountains since she lives in a flatter area. On the other side Sadeed had mountains but never realized how amazing they were. By writing to each other I think students will learn to appreciate the little things they have. They will also learn to appreciate and accept differences rather than discriminate against each other. It will help students learn that although there are people all over the world, we are all people and have similar hopes, dreams and ideas.

    • 13 Katie Neiman December 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      I agree, this book would make an excellent class read. The idea of having students have pen pals from another country is great. When I was in 3rd grade my class did that, we had pen pals from Australia. This gives students access into a whole other country just by writing to someone from there. This book would tie into the Common Core because you are integrating social studies and reading and language arts.

      • 14 Megan Muir April 28, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        I agree with your comment about the book as well as the Common Core integration. The book would make a great connection with social studies by learning about different countries as well as language arts by the students writing letters. The students could also learn how to write symbols or characters for language arts about their pen pals other language if they do not speak English as their first language in order for the student to gain insight about another language.

    • 15 Kelly McGlynn December 5, 2012 at 12:22 am

      I really loved this story and felt that it was a great book for students to read. I also felt that it was very interesting to see how life is like for children in Afghanistan. Surprisingly there are some similarities, but not surprising there are also many differences. I love the idea of pen pals and I would definitely consider using that in my future classroom some day. I think it is a great experience for students and it would really benefit them to learn about another culture. They may learn to appreciate their lifestyle and culture a lot more. I would love it if my students formed life long bonds with their pen pals, that would be extremely ideal. I would definitely use this book in my classroom. I am not sure if I would use it as a class read, or an independent read.

      • 16 Jordan Welzel December 8, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        Kelly, I agree with you! I think that pen pals at a younger age would be awesome to get two perspectives but I also think it would be a great idea for teachers to reach out to others that are across the world and relate to how they may use this story in the classroom from two different perspectives. I would also use this book in the classroom to begin a research project to give them an idea of what two different parts of the world are like.

    • 17 Lindsay Clark December 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      I love the idea of using pen pals in the classroom! This would be such a great opportunity for students to understand the culture of someone else and truly understand their day to day life. I think it would be very exciting to recieve letters from someone in a different country and it would be great to find a new friend. Having a pen pal is a fun way to incoporate writing into a lesson and to get the students familiar with writing.

      • 18 Dana Fletcher December 9, 2012 at 2:28 am

        I agree with you, I think it would be great for the children to have pen pals. This could easily be connected to social studies. The students could compare their life style to their pen pals. This could also be connected to math by having the students figure out how far away they live from their pen pals. Dana Fletcher

    • 19 Paige Young December 12, 2012 at 1:45 am

      I agree that it was really interesting to see thee two different perspectives in this story. Being American it was nice to get to be able to see the perspective of some one in Afghanistan rather than just assuming what is going through their minds. I also really like the idea of bringing pen pals to the classroom. That would be a neat way to bring this book into a writing unit.

    • 20 Jennifer Thickman April 24, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I think having the pen pal system in this book was great. I also loved the back and forth within the life of Abby in America and Sadeed in Afghanistan. I also liked seeing the issues that were present in both societies. I think the way this book addresses the problems that are faced in America, with families not wanting Afghanistan topics in the classroom, and in Afghanistan, with a male talking to a female and the hatred for America by some people is something our students should be exposed too. I think this book addresses these topics without over doing it for the age group.

    • 21 Adrienne Buffington April 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      I agree that it was interesting to see these two different perspectives and lives from people living in different places around the world. In my own classroom, I would love for my students to have pen pals. My sister did her full time internship in New Zealand in fall 2011 and she is back there now for a few months teaching. I think it would be really neat for my students and sister’s students in New Zealand to write letters back and forth to each other. Being on opposite sides of the world, it would be neat for the kids to develop friendships and hear what life is like on the other side of the world.

    • 22 Moriah April 27, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      When I was in elementary school, I had a penpal in North Carolina. The experience alone was really cool for me as a fifth grader. I was even able to meet my pen pal at the end of the year. I agree with Megan’s idea abut pen pals. This book allowed for us to learn about the perspectives in Afghanistan as well as Illinois.

    • 23 Patricia Sims May 9, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      This was a great book and children I think could relate to this book easily because most children have moved or been to different areas, It is a little different though because this is a child from America and a child from Afghanistan. It is a great story and gives children the idea of what takes place in other parts of the world. It would be a great book to introduce pen pals and to start doing pen pals within your own class with another school from somewhere else in the US. It might be hard to do pen pals with another school in another country but with another state would be just as cool and children could learn just as much. It also gets children writing and writing creatively. Overall this is a win win for a teacher because students are reading, learning, and writing.

  2. 24 Jill Klaverweiden December 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I thought this was a great book. It is one that can lead to many connections for the students. There are some students who have been in danger of failing and have had to complete extra assignments like Abby.
    The relationship that develops between Abby and Sadeed is a great thing. It shows that even if there are people of someone’s culture that are mean and do horrible things there are still people of that same culture who are nice and do not participate in the horrible actions like other members do. It was also great to see the comparison and contrast between the land in the U.S. and Afghanistan. Also, seeing the differences in daily life was a great thing as well. This is a book that would allow the students to learn a lot about Afghanistan and the differences between America and Afghanistan.
    I also think that the pen pal thing is a great detail in the book and a great thing to do in the classroom. It would be easy to even set up the pen pals in the same school. Students from two different grades or two different classrooms could be each others pen pal. If I use this book in my classroom I would definitely incorporate the pen pals one way or another.

    • 25 Megan Blue December 7, 2010 at 4:09 am

      I completely agree with Jill’s idea that this book could be useful to show that not everyone in a specific area have to be “bad guys”. I am sure the students reading this book would be aware of the issues between the United State and Afghanistan. This book is good to show that even though those things are happening the students there age are just like regular kids like them. There culture my be different and they may do different things on a day to day basis but overall they are just kids like them. It is important to show the students this point and not have a completely negative outlook on some different countries.

      • 26 Jennifer Crist-Watson December 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm

        I also really like Jill’s thought on how the book brings in issues of “bad guys” in certain places. Of course, every country probably has these issues; however, not everyone is involved and that is the important thing to focus on. Whenever people hear news about bad people in a ceratin country, they often times assume that all the people living there are the same way. However, that is not the case. This book gives the reader a different perspective on issues like this.

    • 27 Christy South December 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      I agree with Jill I think many times students and even adults view ourselves as different from people of other cultures and it important to understand those but also to understand that we also share some similarities too. I also agree the book would be great for students to relate to because some have struggled maybe not with failing but even with just a class that could have or did cause a bad grade and they had the opportunity to improve it through extra credit.

    • 28 Robyn Dozier December 7, 2012 at 1:32 am

      I agree with Jill that it would be a good idea for students to learn about Afghanistan by reading this book and comparing and contrast it with America. Then, they could write to a pen pal from a different country so they could compare and contrast that country with America. Each student could be assigned different countries to write to a pen pal. After that, they could present what they learned from their experience. This way each student could learn about a different country and teach what they learned to their peers.

      • 29 Paige Young December 12, 2012 at 1:51 am

        Jill, I like how you mentioned that students could relate to this book because of having to do something for extra credit. I think that this book is a great example of how students can take a bad situation such as potentiallyfailing and creating some postive and good out of it. Also, I agrre that using this book to help students become more culturally aware would be extremly beneficial.

    • 30 Valerie December 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      i agree with your thoughts on connections.Connections are one of the most important parts of selecting a good novel for the classroom. Another connection i think student could make with this book is based off the two settings United States and Afghanistan. Many students have family members over seas in Afghanistan so i think this book would help students see the environment their family members are experiencing over there. There are many more connections this books provide which is why it is a great book for a whole class read.

  3. 31 Jordan Levin December 6, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I believe that this would be a great book to incorporate into the classroom because so many children could relate to this book. First of all, many students these days are getting held back and for those students they probably feel embarrassed, feel as if they are a disappointment, and just plain dumb, but if they read this book, they can see and understand that anyone could get held back and if they do, it should just motivate you to do better and/or even come up with an extra credit assignment to get their grades up. Aside from the getting held back aspect, children could also relate and/or be interested in the pen pal concept. What doesn’t sound fun and exciting about writing letters to a student in another country? I know that if I were an Elementary student or even now, I would love to be a pen pal and learn about a different culture from an actual person of that culture as opposed to just reading about it in a text book. Children would get so excited every time they would get a letter and would keep them much more eager to learn. Also, if one were to assign this book for children to read, they could even set up a pen pal project for their kids to complete once their finished reading, which would be a great idea in integrating language arts (friendly letters) and social studies (culture).

    • 32 Jill Klaverweiden December 7, 2010 at 2:01 am

      I definitely that there are a lot of students that get held back and that can be a troubling experience. Reading this book can be inspirational for them. It can make them realize that there are many things they can do to improve their grades or get through the school year that they have to repeat. Reading the book can make learning about Afghanistan very interesting for the students. I also believe that they will pay more attention to this book and get more out of it than text books about Afghanistan. If pen pals were set up in the class the students could create pen names and write to one another and try to figure out who they are writing to. I definitely believe this is a good book to have in the classroom and even use during social studies or language arts to connect the two subjects.

    • 33 Megan Blue December 7, 2010 at 4:04 am

      I totally agree with Jordan’s idea that reading about a different country in a book like this would be a lot more interesting then learning about it in a text book. The perspective of a student your own age is much more engaging then the perspective of a text book. As a teacher connecting this book to current events would also be great. Especially the part where Sadeed is stopped by that man. Using this part of the book connected to current events would probably make student more interested in the current events.

      • 34 Heather Mazzie December 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

        I agree with you and Jordan but I think it would be awesome for students to be reading this book and other international novels WHILE learning about those countries in textbooks too. I think it would bring new meaning to the textbook material, and inspire students to be interested in the material. The book would provide students with lasting memories about what they have learned, by being able to picture characters and letters, to recall this information more easily.

      • 35 Paige Young December 12, 2012 at 1:55 am

        I thik that this is a really great idea but I also agree with Heather. If students were able to make connections with what they are reading in their textbook with the novels they have chosen to read this would make learning these things some much more meaningful to the students. I believe that using international novels like this one could help students recall and remember information better because they are able to make meaningful connections.

      • 36 Sarah Perry December 12, 2012 at 1:59 am

        Another way this story can be used in the classroom is for the students to make a map. They could mark where Afghanistan is and where we are on a map and then figure out how far away we are from each other.
        Sarah Perry

    • 37 Christy South December 13, 2010 at 4:23 pm

      I agree with Jordan it is such a great idea to partner reading the book with then doing a concrete assignment such as writing a pen pal. I remember being in middle school and writing a student in France. I used to love getting her letters we were alike but also different. I even admired the way she wrote her words so different from mine. I took French every year after that until I graduated from high school. It was a great experience and definitely encouraged me to dive into my French studies so I could learn more about her native language and culture.

    • 38 Jennifer Crist-Watson December 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      When I read the book I didn’t really think about how many students worry about failing a class or even a grade. However, when I read other people’s comments like Jordan’s it is obvious that this topic would be very relatable to many students. I don’t know how many times I have been worried about failing a test or not passing a class, and I am sure a lot of young students and even college students will be able to relate to this story. In addition, the story encourages students to do extra credit if possible, in order to bring up a grade.

    • 39 Sarah Pouncey December 15, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      I agree with Jordan that a lot of kids could definitely relate to this book that have struggled in school. A child can feel really alone when they are having these academic problems and this book shows them that they are in fact not alone, and with a good teachers help and little motivation they can do better and bring their grades up. Maybe the teacher could even have the student that is falling behind read this book for extra credit and assign them a pen pal either in a different country or state, or even in their own school but in a different grade.

    • 40 Katie Moyseenko February 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      Unfortunately, many students are getting held back and if we as teachers can come up with exciting activities like the one in this book we could possibly help our students. This activity changed Abby from a student who did no work, to a student who went above and beyond to complete this project. I would like a penpal too. I feel like once when I was in school I did something like this, but it didn’t turn out as well as my teacher had hoped. Maybe if we did some research and picked penpals that would actually respond, it would be more beneficial for our students rather than randomly picking someone and hoping they answer.

      • 41 Kelly Thomas April 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

        I hadn’t thought about this point before reading it here, but I agree that we as teachers would have to be careful in our selection of a pen pal for our student. If they ended up with a pen pal that did not engage them or respond to them, it would most definitely do more harm than good and also defeat the purpose of this type of assignment. I also think that as teachers we would need to be prepared to offer our students more information on any issues that might arise in a letter from a pen pal.

    • 42 Katie Perkins May 15, 2012 at 3:56 am

      I love Clements’ books because they are all written in such a relatable way. He makes it so easy to incorporate his books in the classroom, and this book is no exception. This book crosses the curriculum so effectively. Obviously it fits in Language Arts, but then it seamlessly works with Social Studies. Students have the opportunity to learn about another country that has a huge stigma to it today. It is important for students to have the opportunity to see a culture in a less judgmental way. Students need to be given the opportunity to face a different point of view/new information with a clear, non-biased head, and this book allows for just that.

    • 43 Robyn Dozier December 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      I agree with Jordan that this book is relatable to children. Many children could relate to Abby’s issues in the way she feels and deals with school. As the class reads the book they would find out they can also relate to Sadeed.

    • 44 Jennifer Thickman April 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      I agree that the pen pal program would be a great way to combine social studies and language arts in a way that would motivate students. I can easily see students being excited to participate in this project. I also like that students who have trouble in school and may be held back now have someone to relate too. My only concern is that students may look at her journey and think it is acceptable to slack off because they can just do an assignment later and it will all be fine. I wish this book would have emphasized the struggle Abby went through to improve her grades so students would not think that was an option.

    • 45 Adrienne Buffington April 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      I do not think as many students are getting help back today because of the negatives of holding students back outweigh the positives. I agree that this book could be motivating for students to do better. Having a pen pal in a different country to become friends with and share experiences with could be internal motivation for students to work hard. I would definitely enjoy communicating with a pen pal and earning extra credit for such a fun activity is definitely motivating. Like you said, it is a great way to integrate language arts and social studies and I also think that students would really enjoy having a personal pen pal.

    • 46 Karen Carty November 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      I also really appreciate the aspect of being left behind as a subject that is explored in this book. As a mother of a 6th grader, I know how some students do not take their school work seriously and think there are no consequences for their behavior. I think that not only does this book provide and opportunity for students to relate to this content, but it also teaches a valuable lesson. There are consequences for your actions and if you are lucky and deserving, you might get a second chance. But it will be more work than you thought!!

    • 47 Jordan Welzel December 8, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Jordan, you have some really awesome ideas! Just like myself a lot of us have thought about the pen pal idea and I think that would be a great idea. I also think that it would be a great think to incorporate of writing letters to kids that are from these places or even our troops that we have across the world because they are now apart of these types of lives.

  4. 48 Sandy December 7, 2010 at 1:34 am

    I agree with Jill that pen pal can be done in school. And it’s cool to write to a boy from different country even across the ocean and continent. Students can learn many things from each other.Like Abby, she doesn’t know anything about Sadeed’s country at first. In the book, Abby’s class creates a board to show her letters and materials about Afghanistan. I learned that in some school,teachers help children to communicate with others by writing letters or by emails.It’s a good change for children to practice their writing skills and make friendships with others.

  5. 49 Sandy December 7, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Maybe there are many girls like Abby who doesn’t like doing her schoolwork or even repeats the sixth grade. Many problems will happen when children grow up.She doesn’t like doing homework but it means that she is a bad girl. In many school, teachers evalute students upon their scores in tests.Abby learned that there are many children who don’t have chance to study at school in Afghanistan.There are many students who may suffer from the wars. Abby knew what the country is like by Sadeed’s discription.And she received a small piece of stone from Sadeed’s home.She changed bit by bit.She got the postive living attitude from Sadeed.

    • 50 Adrienne Buffington April 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      I am certain that there are many students who relate to Abby in that they do not like doing school work and lack motivation. We as teachers need to find ways to motivate these students, not just extrinsically by giving they rewards; but students also need to motivated intrinsically. Learning about other countries and cultures I think could be one way to motivate students. Children elsewhere in the world may have it much harder such as children in Afghanistan; many students there suffer from wars as you said. Hearing about these experiences may motivate some students to work hard. Having pen pals so students are exposed to different experiences and cultures is fun for them and hopefully motivating as well.

  6. 51 Sandy December 7, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Teachers may get the presure from parents. In this book, you can find that the board which was canceled at last because someone’s parents told teacher to take it off.Parents are senstive to political and religion issues sometimes. They don’t want curriculum will influence their children’s minds.So teachers have to adapt to few of them and change plans. It’s hard for teachers to make decision when they face these problems.On one hand, they want children can learn a lot, on the other hand, their parents don’t allow it.

    • 52 Jennifer Thickman April 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      I think the cancellation of the board was a great experience for me personally to see as a future teacher reading the book. It makes me think of ways that I could try to handle that situation. I do not necessarily think the teacher did the wrong thing, I just personally would have put more effort into defending the board seeing that was a students work. I understand the consequences of having a board like this with parents who are against these ideas. I also think including this in the book for young readers is important. I do not think students realize that some adults have these opinions. The lack of knowledge of certain areas of the curriculum has been ignored most of their lives and they never realize it. I think students could become more open minded because they could see both sides of the parent and the student and even of people who live in Afghanistan.

  7. 53 Jacquelyn Cummings December 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I really enjoyed this book because it allowed the reader insight to what the lives of children in Afghanistan are like. The story was very interesting and allowed those readers who have ever had a pen pal to relate to the story even more. The idea of a pen pal is a great idea and one that would be awesome to incorporate into the classroom. I myself had a pen pal all through elementary school and it was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about Florida and what it was like to live there. While I was able to share what it was like to live in Maryland and what I did for fun here. Students will find this book very interesting because they are able to learn a lot and see different culture.

    • 54 AnneMarie McPherson December 13, 2010 at 12:52 am

      I feel that this book does share a lot about the culture of Afghanistan, however did you noticed that Amira and Sadeed signed some of their letters with “God-Be-Willing”? I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how Afghan children may truly send their letters seeing as how Islam is the religion of many in Afghanistan??

      • 55 Danielle Goldstein March 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

        That’s a good point. I also wondered about other small differences. I do not know much about Afghanistan but I wonder how much of this book is true to their culture. I know to us it seems authentic but is it?

      • 56 Amanda Avens May 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

        I noticed this as well. This is something that us, as future educators, would need to do some research on. It may be for a religious or cultural reason that they signed their letters like this, or it could be totally fictionalized by the author. It depends on how much research the author did on the culture as well.

        If we ever plan on using this book in our own classrooms, or have them in our classroom libraries, we need to do some self research to make sure we could answer this question if a student (or parent) should ask it. This brings up another point that I make of always knowing what it in your classroom library and making sure that you read all of the books you intend on placing into your classroom.

      • 57 Katie Perkins May 15, 2012 at 3:59 am

        I think it would be great to have students test the cultural authenticity in books such as this one. Have students complete research about different cultures, or even set up a pen pal as addressed earlier and ask these questions (what’s better than going straight to the source?) It is important for students to develop skills that allow them to critically look at new information. With all the information thrown at students through the internet and newspapers, they must take up these critical skills in order to be truly informed. This would be a great opportunity to have them practice critical thinking.

    • 58 Katie Moyseenko February 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I would absolutely incorporate a penpal activity into my classroom at some point in the classroom. I have seen through this story what children can potentially learn from doing an acitivity like this. I do know there are some downfalls to creating penpals, but if it works out well it would be a great activity. I also like the idea of the bulletin board. Maybe if the entire class was doing this project, they could have a class board. The students would be able to see what everyone’s pals are saying and maybe at the end, the entire class could compare and contrasts the different cultures within the classroom’s pals.

      • 59 Cathy Holland April 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

        Katie I really like the idea of the entire class having a penpal and the class making a board together. It would be neat if they had penpals from all different parts of the world and the students could compare the different cultures of their penpals.

      • 60 Sarah Perry December 12, 2012 at 2:01 am

        That’s a great idea to have a wall so kids can post their correspondences so all can see. They could also start a classroom newspaper where they could feature letters or new information regarding the book.
        Sarah Perry

    • 61 Kelly McGlynn December 5, 2012 at 12:26 am

      I completely agree. I loved that the readers were given an insight into the lives of children in Afghanistan. Prior to reading this story, I can be honest that I did not know much about their culture. Of course there are things that I’ve heard on the news, but nothing really about the lives of the children. I’ve always wondered what they do for fun and is it the same as what we did as children? Just like you I also had a pen pal when I was younger. All I can remember is that he name was Jasmine. I do not recall whether she was from another country or state. Once we were done the assignment I never kept in contact with Jasmine. I was in third grade then and really did not think much of the assignment. I do wish I had kept in contact though and learned more about her. I definitely would try to incorporate pen pals into my curriculum. It’s a fun activity and I really feel that children could learn a lot.

  8. 62 AnneMarie McPherson December 13, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I truly loved this novel, Extra Credit, because it connects two children who may seem like total opposites. I love how the story is developed, with Abby reluctantly taking on this task to pass the sixth grade and then to her surprise finding a true friend halfway across the world. I think that many young readers would relate to Abby. She is a typical middle school student who doesn’t exactly see the value in spending hours slaving over homework. However, I think some young readers will also relate to Sadeed. He is a middle school student with a love for learning who prides himself in completely new challenges and taking risks.
    I thought it was interesting how Clements incorporated the cultural conflicts into the book including the parents who wanted the Afghan flag down and the Afghan who ripped up the note from America. These would be interesting event to discuss or debate with students in the classroom.
    This is definitely a book that I would share with my class or encourage my students to read.

    • 63 Brittany Postles March 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      I agree, this book was a great read and really informational for students who do not know much about other cuontries cultures. I also loved that the book portrayed two different types of students, like you said. Any type of reader will be able to relate to one of the characters and it may even encourage these students to do extra work and see the advantages to working hard in school, like Abby. Your idea on debating the events in the story is also a great one and would really teach the students a lot about cultures.

    • 64 Jennifer Thickman April 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      I completely agree. I absolutely love this book and all of the elements and sides that Clements incorporated throughout the book. I think it is a viewpoint that students should read and see what is really happening in the world around them. I think this book could easily link with other activities that students would genuinely want to participate in because they saw how it happened in the book and want that experience themselves as well.

  9. 65 Sarah Pouncey December 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it would excite students due to its relatability to their own lives, and current topics. I think that most kids do not realize that not every part of Afganistan is how the country as a whole is portrayed on the news. They think that every town is a desert with people that they have nothing in common with but through this book I think that they would realize kids are the same around the world. I also like how Clements addressed real issues like when a mother at the school asked the teacher to take down the Afgan flag. I am sure that this scenerio could really happen at almost any school in the US sue to the negative connotation of the word “Afganistan.” It also shows that not everyone in Afganistan hates Americans. In the book it appears that these people are the minority, just like most people in the US don’t have everyone in Afganistan. I would definitely use this book in my classroom. I really liked Jill’s idea about haveing the students get a penpal from a different grade in the same school. This would inspire them to write just like it did Abby in the story. Every student has different knowledge and experience and I think that they could learn a lot from one another just like Abby and Sadeed did.

    • 66 Brittany Postles March 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      I agree with you, this book would be something that students would really relate to and be excited about. I also enjoyed the realness to the story, and how the mother had asked to take down the flag. It definitely made me question how I would handle this situation in my own classroom.

  10. 67 Katie Moyseenko February 24, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Oh my gosh, I absolutely loved this book! I started reading the book and I felt like it was just like any other book I would have to read, but once I got to part where the letters were being frequently exchanged, I couldn’t put it down! The parts of the story I liked include: how Sadeed’s letters were so culturally rich, Abby’s ignorance to a new country, and the ending of the story. The project that Abby tackled was very beneficial for her, and would be for any student of her age. The detail that Sadeed wrote in his sister’s letter really gave Abby a feel for what a different culture is really like. Students may have never been able to leave their home state, let alone the country so hearing from someone around the world is fascinating. One of my favorite things he talked about was the gender differences in his culture. Students in America may find it absurd or interesting that boys and girls don’t communicate the way they may in America. When Abby started her project, you could tell she wasn’t very excited about it. She was unaware of things that she was an expert on in the end. she took her project and went above and beyond. She took the time to research differnt pictures and the flag from the country. This project took a student who normally doesn’t complete her work, and turned her into an achiever. When Abby receives her last letter from Sadeed I was very excited for her, haha! We were unsure if there would be another letter, but there was and that was the perfect ending to the book! I would be glad to incorporate this story into my classroom.

    • 68 Danielle Goldstein March 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      Katie, I definitely agree that this book was amazing. I was impressed how authentic it seemed. I think younger elementary students can definitely relate to how sheltered Abby was about Afghanistan and the other side of the world. The whole time I read this novel I kept thinking about what a great idea it would be to have students communicate with students from around the world. Even as a twenty-one year old college student, I realize I have no clue what others around the world have to deal with. To us it is unbelievable to think that a boy and girl cannot write to each other. Our country has come so far to gain gender equality. To be honest, I know this book was published in 2009 but I wonder how many places still see woman as inferior to men. I think this book poses a lot of questions and would be a great way to get students interested in learning about the Middle East and discussing current events.

  11. 69 Danielle Goldstein March 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I really enjoyed this book but I must admit at first I was shocked at the ending. In a children’s novel I did not expect the author to be so honest. In real life I can definitely see how pen pals from America and Afghanistan would be forced to stop writing to each other because of others’ hatred toward the other country. I was blown away when I saw this harsh reality thrown into a children’s novel. For a while I sat there and wondered if it was too much for children of this age, but then I realized they need to learn the truth. They need to understand that the world is not full of sunshine and happiness. We need to address the hatred and prejudice that exists in our world. Educating students about the harsh realities of the world is the best way to get them motivated to change the world. A young child like that cannot believe that some people would be so harsh and threaten someone for talking to a person of another culture. I think this novel will help open students’ eyes and get them fired up to change the future. That is our job as educators; to help educate the youth and prepare them to be productive, successful citizens. What better way to prepare them for the world than to motivate them to fix the problems that we face in today’s society.

    • 70 Cathy Holland April 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      I agree that it did seem harsh in a children’s book that they were forced to stop writing one another. However like you said it is the reality of today’s world and can open the eyes of children. I think it could get children to start thinking and looking into events that are actually happening around the world. Once they are involved in learning about the problems can become motivated to change them in the future.

      • 71 Kelly Thomas April 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm

        I also agree that it was harsh, but it is a reality and I believe students, especially 5th and 6th graders are old enough to begin to realize and learn about these realities. It would definitely be a teaching moment to not only teach what is currently happening in the world around us, but to also touch on what we can do to change this in the future.

    • 72 Aubrey Donaghue November 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Just as both of you stated, I was definitely shocked as well. I feel that in most children’s novels, the endings are always happy, predictable, etc. However, this one is entirely reality-based, which I do believe is best for students to learn in most situations. This book may lead to students desiring to begin writing to another student in a different country. If “Extra Credit” provided them with false hopes that every country is welcoming and wishes to learn about Americans, that would be very, very wrong. We live in a complex world today and I believe the ending of this story was great for teaching students about life and society in today’s world.

      • 73 Heather Mazzie December 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

        I agree with you about the ending – and I think maybe students stray away from novels and more towards violent television shows and video games because the happily ever after of many novels and story books is unrealistic. As students begin to grow up and learn more in school, they want to here more realistic endings, not perfect stories that sound like fair-tales they read as bedtime stories when they were much younger.

    • 74 Dana Schwalenberg November 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      I was also shocked at the ending of the novel. I was not expecting to read about the harsh conditions that the young boy experiences in his village. I think that this novel did a fantastic job at introducing the topic to young readers without delivering the content in a shocking way. The story also allows to the reader to empathize with the young boy after connecting with his touching letters to America. This initiates a number of writing activities that allow students to pair their thoughts to the text. The content within this novel will open a door for a number of questions that the readers can investigate about Afghanistan and America.

  12. 75 Brittany Postles March 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I really liked the book Extra Credit and thought it was extremely relatable and age appropriate for younger readers. I remember when I was in elementary school and had to write letters to people in different countries and recall always being so excited to receive the letters back from my pen pals. This was a great way to encourage language arts and was always a lot of fun. The fact that it entails such a serious side to it dealing with a country who does not like America helps students learn about the worlds differences. Having incorporated culture and current events into a fun and relatable read is a great way to get students interested in different countries and how they live. Because in class we learned that relatability is extremely important to encourage children to read, this is the perfect book to have in my own classroom library.

    • 76 Melissa Coleman October 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      As I read this book I couldn’t help but remember when I was in elementary school and wrote to my pen pal, too. I remember how excited I was to see what my pen pal had written and to write back to her. So, I agree that this would be a great way to engage students in our own classrooms and encourage them to write more. You said that reading a book that addresses one country’s dislike of another helps students learn about world differences, and I agree. This would also be a great way to relate back to social studies and talk about how countries have always been different and wars have even been faught because of this, or even discuss the current events that are happening around the world because of differences.

    • 77 Aubrey Donaghue November 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      I can also relate to having a pen pal when I was in the second grade. My second grade class teamed up with another second grade class at a different school in the same city. While this distance was clearly not as far as Afghanistan and the United States, just this small activity was able to create connections with people that you don’t already know. It was also very cheap and easy for my teacher to conduct, since she was friends with the other second grade teacher and they could easily get our letters to her and vice versa. No mailing even required! (Although we did design envelopes and learned how to address them in the process). With such a simple idea, children will be writing with a purpose.

    • 78 Deanna Marshall December 2, 2011 at 12:42 am

      I also had a pen-pal when I was in elementary school! I can’t remember exactly what grade I was in, but I do remember how excited and eager I was to receive a reply from her. My pen-pal experience worked out differently than most however, in the sense that my pen-pal actually ended up moving from her hometown and as a result, started attending my school! This wouldn’t happen to most students, however, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if this happened to Abby and Sadeed in the book, Extra Credit. Either Abby or Sadeed, depending on which one moved, would experience a culture shock, but it would be really interesting to see how their relationship ended up and whether or not they would be willing to adapt to the new culture. I think Andrew Clements should create a sequel to Extra Credit and expand on Abby and Sadeed’s letter writing, as well as Abby’s school adventures as she moves on to the seventh grade.

      • 79 Jenna Ferrari December 6, 2011 at 7:36 am

        I never even thought about doing a pen pal activity with this book before but that is a great idea! My students currently have pen pals from PA and they get so excited to hear back from their pals and see what they have to say. They are also learning a lot by participating in the pen pals activity as well. I also think the sequel idea would be amazing to have and it would be fun to see these two characters progress even more.

  13. 80 Cathy Holland April 14, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Extra Credit is novel about a young girl that takes on an extra credit project to redeem her bad grades and allow her to pass into the next grade. Abby was not putting in a lot of effort prior to realizing that she will be “left behind” if she doesn’t pull it together. Abby learns that getting good grades isn’t about being smart or teachers liking you but about working hard to earn your grades. In Abby’s extra credit project she writes to what she thought was a girl in Afghanistan. However Abby’s pen pal really is Sadeed, the older brother of her female pen pal. Sadeed is his school’s best student but because of the beliefs in their culture it was not appropriate to have a male and a female pen paling with each other. Sadeed sends Abby a secret letter to let her know how he is really her pen pal. Abby gets excited about her school project and learning about Sadeed and in his family. She has to take caution in writing her letters to respond to Sadeed but without letting anyone know that Sadeed wrote her a letter. In the end the pen pals are forced to stop writing because it wasn’t safe for Sadeed’s family to write to people in America because some people in Afghanistan do not like Americans.

    This book gives a small insight to Afghanistan culture and how different their lives are from our lives here. Clothing, traditions, and many beliefs are different. Then there is the sudden “issue” with them writing each other. This is a good story which gives some information about another country and is also sure to get the inquisitive minds thinking and wondering about life in other countries.

    • 81 Melissa Coleman October 20, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      I like how you listed that this book addresses how clothing, traditions, and beliefs are different in various countries. I think this would be a great way to address this topic and integrate Social Studies in the Reading/Language Arts classroom. Each student could research a particular country. The students would have to learn about that country’s typical dress/clothing, traditions, and general beliefs. Then, the students could write a report or create a project of some type that they can share with the class to help others learn more about that country.

  14. 82 Kelly Thomas April 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I loved this book! I thought it was so real and engaging and I am sure that students would love reading this too. But I also definitely think that they would very interested in having a pen pal as well!

    This novel is about a young girl who is failing the 6th grade. As an extra credit assignment, her teachers offers her the task of pen paling with another students from a different country. Abby chooses Afghanistan because there are mountains there and she loves mountains. She begins to write to a girl, but in turn gets letters from Sadeed, the girls brother. Sadeed loves writing to Abby, but has to do it secretly because he is not allowed to communicate with a girl.

    Many different controversial topics are brought up in this novel that should be further discussed in a classroom. This includes the difference in culture – school, boy and girl interaction, jobs, food, clothing, etc., what is happening in the world, and in the end of the novel – why they had to stop writing. I believe that many students in the United States don’t have a sense of world events, and I think this book would be a great way to introduce the topic and teach about it!

  15. 83 Valerie Brickner July 5, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I really enjoyed “Extra Credit.” I thought it was a great book that students would be able to relate to. As a teacher, I love books that students can relate to. I like the two characters, Abby and Sadeed. I feel no matter what gender the reader is, he/she would be able to relate to either Abby or Sadeed. The reader could relate to Abby for not doing her work and wanting to always be rock climbing or relate to Sadeed for growing up in a difficult part of the world that is experiencing violence and still going to school and helping his family. I feel that both Abby and Sadeed are brave in their own ways. Abby is brave for not wanting to stay in 6th grade for another year once she hears the bad news and working hard to pass 6th grade. Sadeed is brave for writing letters to Abby and wanting to like America even though many people from Afghanistan don’t like America. I felt sad for Sadeed because he wasn’t allowed to write to Abby because he was a boy and then he had to stop helping his sister with the letter writing because of the problems that might come to his village because of being a pen pal with an American. It’s so sad, but so very true. I also felt bad for Abby because she was finally starting to like the project and it had to all stop. It really showed that this can take place in the real world.

    I really love the idea of pen pals. I had a pen pal when I was in school and really enjoyed writing to her. Not only did I practice my grammar and writing skills, but I was able to learn about another part of the country. This book would be a great way to introduce pen pals to a classroom. I think that all classrooms should have pen pals and I believe it should be the old fashion way through the mail. This could take place throughout the whole school year and be across curriculum. It would be a great learning experience for students.

    This book also teaches students a valuable lesson of completing homework and school work. Yes, sometimes you have the opportunity to do extra credit for your grade, but this doesn’t always happen. You should always give your best and always complete your school work on time.

    Overall, I thought the story was a good story. I felt like I was reading a real story about two students from two different parts of the world just living their lives and just wanting to experience each other’s culture by being each other’s pen pal.

  16. 84 kim stephens July 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I just finished Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. What a great novel. I loved how he showed two different characters’ lives in two different places in the world. The reader was shown how these two different characters had so much in common. Their interest in each others’ lives and cuture was the obvious similarity. Abby’s attitude about herself and others changed by the end of the novel because of her experience. I thought it was very clever of the author to make Sadeed’s home be in Afghanistan. In our country today there is so much tension and lack of knowledge about this part of our world. I believe Clements wanted the reader to know that it was not a place to be scared of our unsure about, but rather a place with people who shared the same concerns that we as Americans do. Abby as well as Sadeed learned that reaching out to people of differences can be difficult, mostly because of the opinions of others.
    Students can connect with each of these characters in various ways throughout the story; not feeling accepted and learning to stand up for what is right even if it doesn’t seem easy at first.

  17. 85 Valerie Brickner July 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Here is an additional add-on from my previous post:

    I believe that Andrew Clements did make it easy for American readers to relate to life in Afghanistan in his book, “Extra Credit.” The author does a good job describing how life is over in Afghanistan. It’s a very simple life. Americans can relate to this life over in Afghanistan. They can relate to Sadeed’s hard work and dedication. He wanted to do well in school and make something of himself. That’s the American dream. Americans can also relate to the closeness of Sadeed’s family. He helped his father at his job and also helped his sister write the letters. In America, family is also very important.

    At times while reading the story, it did seem like two students just being pen pals. I agree with Kim that the author wanted the reader to know that it was not a place to be afraid of because the citizens of Afghanistan are similar to Americans. Andrew Clements did a good job writing a story that involved Afghanistan in a way that American readers could relate to in their own personal way.

    • 86 Tammi Duffy July 25, 2011 at 12:43 am


      I agree that there are tons of ways that children will be able to relate to Sadeed’s culture, as well as to identify some things that they have in common or different from Abby.

  18. 87 Tammi Duffy July 25, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I enjoyed reading this book. It was a smooth read that would help children to begin to compare and contrast their culture with that of culture in the middle east. I loved how the author took time to spell out both similarities and differences that the two main characters had with each other. Both of them could relate to each other because of the family that they had (brother, sister, mom, dad). Both of them attended school. However, there were vast differences as well (expectations/limitations for boys and girls, danger from day to day).
    This would be a great example of a book that could be used to introduce children to other cultures, even if the book is not necessarily written in or produced outside of the U.S. The reader might enjoy that he/she can relate or differ from both characters in one or more ways. Great read!

  19. 88 Sara Basil July 30, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I didn’t read this book from the list either, but I just ordered it! All of the conversation that has sparked from the reading made me think about the value of using the story to communicate the fact that the Afghan culture doesn’t consist of unruly terrorists. I think it would also be beneficial to read so that students can become curious of other cultures. Conversations could be had about the fact that international friends can be easily obtained through social networking sites. In fact, a classroom facebook page could be created and the teacher could iniciate international connections and monitor the communications. Great ideas everyone, thanks!

  20. 89 Melissa Coleman October 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Extra Credit is a novel that not only depicts a main character that young readers may be able to relate to, but it also addresses current political issues and exposes young readers to cultures that may differ from their own. As a teacher candidate, I greatly enjoyed the extra credit project that Abby’s teacher offered. Communicating with a student in another country can open a student’s eyes to things they never knew about. Students with pen pals in other countries are able to learn about everyday life, cultural traditions, and many other aspects of living. My favorite part of Abby’s extra credit assignment was the bulletin board updates. I feel as though having Abby share her letters with the entire class via a classroom display allowed this project to impact even more students, rather than just the student communicating directly with the pen pal. This assignment seems to be very beneficial to a number of students in multiple ways.

    • 90 Deanna Marshall December 1, 2011 at 3:26 am

      I also liked that the teacher required Abby to create and update a bulletin board regarding her pen-pal in Afghanistan. I think that by making this a part of the assignment, the teacher encouraged the other students in the class to hold Abby accountable for completing the assignment to bring her grade up. Abby’s classmates were always eager to see what new information Abby would post, and therefore, if Abby didn’t post anything for awhile, her classmates would ask. I also thought it was ridiculous that a student’s parent contacted the school in regards to the picture of the Afghanistan flag hanging on the bulletin board. The bulletin board is a means of learning for everyone in the class in one way or another and was not meant to offend anyone. I do not think Abby should have had to remove the flag due to the fact that it symbolizes the country her pen-pal is from and most importantly, nobody was forced to look at it.

  21. 91 Aubrey Donaghue November 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I chose to read “Extra Credit” because I am very familiar with the author, Andrew Clements. He was always one of my favorites when I was in upper elementary school. In this novel, Abby is placed in the unfortunate situation of possibly failing a grade and being held back due to her low scores. The author talks a lot about motivation in the story and mentions different learning styles that would have benefited Abby if she had been a real person. For example, she was constantly wanting to be outdoors. She adored rock climbing, rope climbing, and demonstrated that she could show much more enthusiasm if her daily lessons somehow incorporated her interests. As a teacher candidate, I am constantly being reminded to differentiate instruction and consider all of my students’ needs when teaching. Therefore, including movement or drawing or ANYTHING that might provide the connecting piece for a child and his or her learning is so crucial in the educational profession. One of her teachers did find a great way to get her connected to her learning through her extra credit assignment. Abby became pen pals with another student in Afghanistan. The two students learned a great amount about the different cultures and the activity turned Abby’s schoolwork around and gave her a new appreciation for culture, as well as learning.

  22. 92 Deanna Marshall December 1, 2011 at 3:16 am

    When I first started reading this book, I was slightly confused. I wasn’t sure what was going on during the first few pages and it took me some time to understand the story line, but once I figured it out, I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

    “Extra Credit” isn’t like any other book I have read. It’s unpredictable story line kept me engaged and always wanting to know more. One thing I particularly like about this book is the fact that it conveys so much realistic cultural knowledge to readers. Throughout the book, Clements does an excellent job of giving the reader a glimpse of the culture in Afghanistan as well as the American culture. I believe this “glimpse” provides teachers with perfect learning opportunities and projects. I think it would be really beneficial if the students researched and delved deeper into the culture of the Afghanistan people after reading the novel. I think this would help them understand the characters and events that took place on a more personal level. I also think it would be neat to have two classes of the same grade level be pen-pals. For instance, one fifth grade class, for example, could research one country’s culture and another fifth grade class could research a different country’s culture. Then,they could write to one another pretending as if they are living within that culture. This would give students and even adults a new appreciation for cultures including their own.

  23. 93 Kristen Horner December 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    At first I couldn’t get into this book, but after the first few chapters I really enjoyed it. The book discusses some serious issues, but does it in a kid friendly way. Reading this book in the classroom would be a good way to introduce a unit on culture. The students could pick a country and research some of the customs and how things may differ from the United States.

    • 94 Jenna Ferrari December 6, 2011 at 7:33 am

      i agree with you. It was hard for me to get into as well but before I knew it i was really engaged into the dialogue between the two girls. They both share some pretty serious things with one another which may help students feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts or hardships if they read this book. And I agree, this definitely would be a good book to use when introducing a unit on different cultures.

      • 95 Matt Oberly December 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm

        I also think this would be a good book to teach about different cultures. But I especially think it would be beneficial to teach around the anniversary of 9/11. I’m sure there will be some parental discontent about this, but the book does such a good job of showing that people are people no matter what and that the actions of a few don’t represent the overall feelings of every person (American or Afghan or anything else). I think this would be an important message to share after a 9/11 anniversy, because we need to teach tolerance and explain to kids that not Al-Qaeda doesn’t represent the views of every Muslim. This story has a great message of openness, which is what American students need to hear when they learn about different cultures

    • 96 Katie Neiman December 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      I had never thought of this, that is such a good idea. I see that so many people have the idea of having their students have their own pen pals like in the story but this is another way to expand off of the book. I too enjoyed the book and getting a glimpse at Sadeed’s culture, I really learned a lot. If students do their own research they will be so much more informed about that country and they could present it to the class in so many ways.

  24. 97 Jenna Ferrari December 6, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I think what was most interesting to me was the flip flopping perspectives on what it was like to live a day in America and then the next in Afghanistan. I think this style really showed the similarities and differences between these two worlds in an interesting way. This book would be really easy to use in the classroom because there is a lot information being said about these two lifestyles that could be used when integrated with content. Students would also be able to gain a lot of insight about the different culture in Afghanistan. The two main characters are learning a lot from each other so imagine what students could learn by reading this book. If students could read this book, they would get to experience things that they normally wouldn’t just by reading what the two girls are saying back and forth to one another. I definitely thought this would be a good book for students to read especially since there were things in the book that I never knew before and was learning just by reading it.

  25. 98 Matt Oberly December 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I find myself agreeing with the numerous other posters who love the contrast between the two worlds. I loved the part where Abby talks about wanting to visit mountains, and Sadeed realizing just how interesting his homeland really is. It’s also pretty cool to see how Abby is just going through her life in high school without ever stopping to realize how fortunate she really is. After school she can just go on nature walks and play on the climbing wall, yet Sadeed has to go work at his fathers grainery. The contrast of the two cultures is an important feature of the book, but not the defining aspect. I love when Abby notes that people are simple, but things around them get complicated. Abby and Sadeed bond, which is in contrast to the black/white worldview that many people seem to have of Afghan people. This book helps to show a young reader whats really important in life and not to let prejudices get in the way of getting to know someone

    • 99 Jack Parker December 14, 2011 at 2:13 am

      Matt I agree! The book is an excellent way students can see the perspective of how are culture is so different from someone who live in Afghanistan. This book should enlighten students to how good they have it in America and inspire them to learn about different cultures.

    • 100 Sarah Hellman May 1, 2012 at 2:42 am

      I couldn’t agree more with the fact that this books makes students appreciate what they have. Too often children do not realize how fortunate they are and this book does an excellent job bringing that to their attention without being in their face about it. The two cultures are severely different yet there are unique characteristics about each that the people in that culture seem to over look. I think as educators it is are job to teach tolerance of differences whether it be skin color, religion, etc. I believe this book is a perfect example of how to introduce that concept to children.

  26. 101 Matt Oberly December 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    While I love the idea of communicating with people from another culture, I find myself shying away from using traditional pen/paper methods. I know I sound like such a Generation Y student here, but I really feel as if this is outdated and overly time consuming. While this was certainly ok for the characters in the book, I think that if I were to use this book as a lesson, I’d rather use some form of electronic communication. We live in a world, and will teach students living in a world, of instant face-to-face communication. I think it would be much more interesting to have students potentially engage in an email correspondence or set up a class-wide skyping session with classroom in another country. While this may raise issues with time, students could record themselves asking questions and have the other students respond.
    Students in my class could still practice letter writing skills, but sending them via email seems like a more relevant way of communicating in today’s world. You could still use parcel though and have students send a package of things representing their classroom/school district with handwritten/typed descriptions.

    • 102 Heather Mazzie December 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      I agree with you, Matt, about the reliability and logistics when it comes to using technology over traditional methods of communication. If I wanted to have my class communicate with other students from around the world, while also improving upon their writing skills, penmanship, spelling, and familiarity with the componants of a friendly letter, I would have them compose hand-written letters first, to get these skills down, and then assist them in emailing the letters. This way, students are creating drafts using the traditional method and gaining writing skills from the lesson, but then introduced and becoming more familiarized with technology, as it is more reliable and a necessary skill for students to master as well.

      • 103 Erica Katz December 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        This is a great point you both have. Traditional pen and paper communication is becoming obsolete with exceptions like military letters when technology and computers are sparce. Many countries that we think of as less fortunate and technologically advanced still have the tools and devices for communication over the airwaves. I like the idea of still enforcing handwritten letters to establish penmanship and handwriting skills, but typing is becoming more like a necessity for our students’ future. Children are beginning to handle and work with computers as young at two years old, but to keep a solid balance of writing and typing, it is best to use both within the classroom.

  27. 104 Katie Neiman December 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Extra Credit was a great book that I found hard to put down. Two students of completely different up-comings and backgrounds become pen pals. Through a few letters they are able to learn so much about each others countries and really begin to form a relationship. Due to their countries differences Sadeed and Abby aren’t allowed to write to each other anymore. As this came as bad news to the two they both ended with a positive outcome of the assignment, friendship and a new perspective. This was such a clever story that opened my own eyes into a world that I am unfamiliar with. This book will teach students about Afghanistan and some of their culture. It would be a great book for a class read and to start a unit where your own students have pen pals of their own.

  28. 105 Erica Katz December 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Extra Credit is a book that deals with a pen-pal friendship spanning from the U.S. to Afghanistan. I like how this book is relieved of prejudices but instead resolves the cultural differences when Abby and Sadeed continue to write each other. International books help open our eyes to differences as well as similiarities between two ethnicities and cultures. This book could motivate many schools to become involved in a pen-pal program to experience new things and learn about each other just like the characters in the book.

    • 106 Jack Parker December 14, 2011 at 2:08 am

      Yeah I also liked that you could see the cultural differences between the two characters. I think having students read this kind of book would help them understand different cultures and how they function as a society.

  29. 107 Jack Parker December 14, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Extra credit is an excellent book about how unfortunate events can sometimes lead to discovering more about someone elses culture. An american girl, Abby, from Illinois communicates with a boy, Sadeed, from Afghanistan. Sadeed is faced with difficulty in his own country because their are so many strict rules about communicating with others outside their culture, but some how Sadeed some how is able to participate in Abby’s extra credit work.

    • 108 Sarah Hellman May 1, 2012 at 2:34 am

      I agree with what you said that the unfortunate events in this story lead to people learning more about different cultures. I think this is a great book to use because it exposes to cultures that are different from their own. It allows them to see and understand how their life could be different simply by where they are born. This is a valuable lesson for children of all ages to understand and I think this book does a beautiful job outlining it.


      • 109 Krista Johnson May 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        I think that both you and Jack have made excellent point about Extra Credit. I wanted to mention however how this book could be utilized in the classroom. Like both of you stated it is a really good book to expose children to the unfortunate and not always fair realities of the world around us. Through reading this book children will become more aware of cultures unlike our own. Though we, as Americans, have a very unique culture, other cultures are unique in many different ways than us. Some of these issues such as gender roles, and levels of education are addressed in this novel. Since this is a chapter book, middle school children could use this book to spark a Social Studies research project about other cultures around the world. The issues addressed in this novel can be catalysts for the differences that the students discover about our World’s varying countries.

  30. 110 Stacey Ruark April 27, 2012 at 1:56 am

    After reading various other books by Clements in elementary school, I knew that I wanted to read this book because I had loved the others so much. This book was not a let down at all!
    Extra Credit is a book about a sixth grade girl, Abby, who is in danger of failing the sixth grade. It’s not that she can’t do the work, however, it’s that she simply just does not want to and would rather be outside or rock climbing. To help her boost her grades and pass the sixth grade, she is to become a pen pal with a student in another country. She chooses to do Afghanistan because there are mountains there, and she loves rock climbing. When her first letter is sent, the teachers in the village want their best student, a boy named Sadeed, to be Abby’s correspondent, but cannot allow this because it would not be appropriate for an Afghani boy to write to a girl. They decide that his sister, Amira, will write the letters, with help from her brother, but that only Amira’s name will be signed at the closing of the letter. This arrangement is quickly tampered with when Sadeed submits his edited version of Amira’s letter, and then later, sends his own letter so that Abby knows he is her actual pen pa.
    I loved the dynamic that Clements created by having every other chapter alter between Abby and Sadeed, so that you could see both sides of the story, and learn about both cultures. By having Sadeed be a prominent character as well, the reader is introduced to the cultural differences that exist between America and Afghanistan, and it also allows for a male reader to identify with this book, whereas they may not if Abby were the sole main character. I think that this would be a great book to discuss Afghanistan and the Middle East and why we have our differences, but also, how they are resolved, and how we can be friends, as Sadeed and Abby became. It would also be a great lead in to a language arts assignment with pen pals either within the school, within the country, or abroad!

    • 111 Katie Velencia April 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      I agree that both males and females can relate to the story because there are two main characters, and I think this is a big benefit of having the book available to young readers. I also believe that there are many stereotypes and negative perceptions of the Afgan culture that Americans have, and they are being transferred down to our students. I think that this book would be a wonderful tool to use to not only teach students about the geography of that part of the world, but also to compare and contrast their culture to ours. This way we could have a positive influence on how our students choose to view the Afgan people.

  31. 112 Katie Velencia April 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    “Extra Credit” should be implemented in classroom not only to strengthen students opinions and feelings towards the Afghan culture, but also as a story to teach students about human nature, and that through relationships with others we can learn more about ourselves and in turn become more well-rounded better people. The key to this is to break out of our shells, and get to know a variety of people who are totally different from us. This book is a great example of how one person, simply through letter writing was able to transform how another person viewed their live, and the physical world around them. This plot in itself is very powerful, and opens the doors to many lessons and activities that could be done in the classroom, and taken outside just Reading class.

    I think that one issue this book does raise is how the teacher handled the situation when she had to take Afghanistan’s flag off of the bulletin board. She was not very informative as to why the parent was so upset, and I think this would have been a great opportunity for students to learn exactly what the relations are between Afghanistan and the United States, and find out more about why adults are so negative towards that country and their culture.Following student research, this could lead to some great class discussion and debate.

    • 113 Stacey Ruark May 1, 2012 at 1:35 am

      I agree with what you said about the issue of taking down the Afghani flag from the bulletin board. This is contemporary realistic fiction, and although this book is for upper elementary students, and the topic of Afghan-American relations is quite complex, students should still be informed about why an object as simple as a flag would upset a child or a parent. While the book wouldn’t necessarily need to go into great detail about all of the issues that both countries have with each other, the topic could have been explained somewhat, instead of just simply saying that a parent and a child were upset by it. This would definitely create a great learning experience and discussion in the class.

      • 114 Amanda Avens May 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

        I agree with Stacey. I wish the author would have explained more about the topic of why the flag was taken down, besides simply stating that it bothered/offended a family. I also agree that this could lead into a great discussion and learning experience but always err on the side of caution in being culturally sensitive with these issues. We want to make sure to encourage students to be accepting of cultural differences and to not be derogative of anyone. The point of such conversations would be to foster curiosity and not reinforce stereotypes, so it also depends on the biases of the teacher on whether a good conversation would stem from this book or not.

    • 115 Samantha Smith May 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Katie, I love how you stated that “Extra Credit” could used for more than just an eye-opener to another culture, that of Afghanistan. I agree that this story could teach students about the benefits of having relationships with others. The plot does lend itself very well to lessons and activities that could be carried out in the classroom. Clearly, students could become excited about having their own pen-pals, from their own school, a different town, or even a different country. Beyond pen-pals, this story could be related to geography and/or social studies. Teachers could integrate this book to teach about the culture of Afghanistan, especially in comparison to the United States. Furthermore, the current relations between the two could be discussed. Looking at another country’s culture and lifestyle will assist students in realizing that different places in the world may be completely opposite of life in the United States.

      I agree that the story should have perhaps elaborated on why the parent was so upset. However, perhaps students in class could brainstorm, using their own background knowledge, the reasons as to why the parent wanted to flag off of the bulletin board. This could then, as you said, lead to a discussion involving not only inferences as to why the parent wanted the flag removed, but also as to the different views people in our country have on Afghanistan.

    • 116 Josh Davis May 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      You are very right about the issue with taking down the Afghan flag. This is a great example of a teachable moment. She could’ve taken that moment to teach the students about a very current issue. An issue that has a lot of impact in Afghanistan as well as here in the U.S.

    • 117 Krista Johnson May 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      I feel so foolish for not thinking of these ideas before you! When I originally reflected on this book I thought it was good to connect to Social Studies to learn about our other worldly cultures. However, I totally did not even think that it could be used as a segway into a classroom discussion about Afghanistan and people’s views on Afghani people. I must have just let it slip my mind because of the controversial discussion of 9-11 in the classroom. If I were the teacher however, I would first make sure that my students could maturely handle such a discussion. If I had a class that could handle this discussion, I would allow the book to spark conversations and research projects on the events of 9-11. Students could find bridges between the book and real events and also address how different cultures solve problems. It really is sad, yet rare that we get we as teachers are able to say that we lived during the time when such a huge devastation hit our country.

    • 118 Christina Nicolas May 17, 2012 at 2:38 am

      I couldn’t have said this better myself. I think it is important for students to learn about other cultures and also about building relationships. It is so important for young children to learn this early on.

  32. 119 Sarah Hellman May 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I think this book is excellently written. The message behind this book of exposing people and having them understand differences between cultures is a great message to be spreading. The topics in the book can be harsh but it is reality and it is important for students to understand what is going on in the world they are living in. I think students would definitely be able to relate to the characters in this story too since they are school aged children. This book is one that would spark great conversation in class and really allow kids to ask questions they are curious about.

    • 120 Stacey Ruark May 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      I agree with what you said about how some of the realities presented in the book are harsh, but they are reality. I think that as teachers and even parents need to recognize that these students are exposed to realities beyond their years every day, regardless of how how much we try to shelter them. I think that this book exposes some of those realities about Afghan-American relationships and cultural differences that students need to learn about because this is the world that they are growing up in, after all, but the book does it in a way that students can relate to and enjoy.

    • 121 Samantha Smith May 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      I agree that this book is excellently written and that the message is a great one. Students do need to be exposed to other cultures, as it will perhaps assist them in appreciating their own culture more. Learning about other cultures can further broaden one’s perspectives and tolerance. I also agree that this book easily can be related to by a variety of students. Having a girl and a boy be the main characters automatically widens the audience of the story, as both can relate at least in part with a character. This book would be great to use in discussions and could also be used to lead into further learning about geography, the current relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, as well as other cultures.

  33. 122 Samantha Smith May 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I truly enjoyed reading “Extra Credit” and found it difficult to find a good stopping point, as it was quite engaging. I think that this book would be great as a whole class read since it does feature both a male and a female main character. Many times, books have just one gender prominent in it, thus leaving those students of the other gender less motivated to read it. I love that the story gave insights into the American lifestyle, as well as the lifestyle and culture of the Afghans. Students these days typically only hear about the negative parts of Afghanistan due to our current relations with the country. However, it is important for them to realize that there is more to that country than is reported; there is a culture and students just like themselves trying to get an education. This book lends itself very well to the new Common Core, as lessons integrating reading with geography or social studies could be taught in relation to this story. This book would be great as a basis for discussions, as well as comparisons and contrasts between the U.S. and Afghanistan. Discussions could be used to get students thinking about why the parent wanted the flag removed from the board. Furthermore, reading this book could increase students’ appreciation for what they do have and could also increase their tolerance of other cultures. Teaching tolerance is an important thing to do, as tolerance is carried throughout life and affects the perspectives and actions students have later on.

    Clearly, this story would lead students to be excited about the ideas of pen-pals. I think that allowing students to write to their own pen-pals is a great, motivating way to teach language arts. I remember having a pen-pal in second grade from a different school; that was so exciting! I can’t imagine how much more excited I would have been if my student was from an entirely different country! Through having pen-pals, students are practicing their reading and writing skills, all while creating a new relationship and learning about another culture.

    • 123 Kate Quillin May 7, 2012 at 1:04 am

      I agree that “Extra Credit” would be a great tool to teach tolerance. Many students are unaware of how different the culture of Afghans is from the American culture. Seeing the relationship that develops between Abby and Sadeed allows students to understand that regardless of the cultures, the two characters are not so different at all. Also, talking about why the teacher had to take the flag off the board would create meaningful discussion and allow them to develop an appreciation for different views.

    • 124 Christina Nicolas May 17, 2012 at 2:36 am

      I agree with you about using this book as a whole class read. I think that is a great idea. I also wrote that students could write a letter to someone after reading this book. This book would definitely teach students about other cultures and be a fun, engaging book to read in the classroom.

    • 125 Britney Steele November 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      I like how you mentioned teaching ‘tolerance’. This is so important in today’s world. Its so important that we start teaching our students that there is more than just their culture in this world. Appreciating the world, themselves, and everything in it!
      Britney Steele

  34. 126 Kate Quillin May 7, 2012 at 12:50 am

    I enjoyed this book because it gives different perspectives. It includes a male and a female as main characters which allows the book to be enjoyed by all students regardless of their genders. It also allows students to connect with the Abby and her struggle with school. At the same time it reveals much about a different culture through Sadeed, which students may not know much about. The idea of having being a pen pal with another student from another culture would be great to do with students after reading this book. Not only could the students gain so much from learning about a different culture, but like Abby in the book it would get students excited about writing.

    • 127 Josh Davis May 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      That’s a great point about children relating to Abby and her trouble in school. This will be very good for reluctant readers.

    • 128 Krista Johnson May 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      I agree with both you and Josh when you said that this book would be prefect for reluctant readers. The book will be appealing to both girls and boys because of the characters, and the struggles they face in their respective countries. I also think another way students could be drawn into the story is by finding personal connection with it. After reading the novel and conducting research about different cultures (specifically American and Afghani) we could hold a debate. In Social Studies class, we could use the book to conduct a debate about the rights in cultures. Half of the class could be America fighting for equality, and the other half could be Afghanistan fighting for why they believe in their rights. I think that this could pose for a very interesting class project!!

    • 129 Morgan Killough November 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      I also love the idea of students relating to Abby’s struggle in school. I did not think of that right away. I thing that this would be an interesting way to show that just because you may struggle in school does not mean that you are not smart.

  35. 130 Amanda Avens May 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    As many others have stated before, I love this book because it gave perspectives of very different male and female characters, making it appealing to both male and female readers. If you know anything about the culture Sadeed is coming from, you know how the main characters had to keep their personal letter writing a secret. It is interesting to see how the author carried out the perspectives of each student in non-stereotypical ways.

    Technology seems to be the main medium of social contact nowadays, and rarely do we receive hand written mail anymore. Some students may learn in Language Arts how to write a letter, but may have no one, or no desire, to write one because of a lack of an audience. These skills are still necessary for life and may become forgotten as technology advances. I loved how this book has the potential to inspire letter writing again in the digital age.

    • 131 Kate Quillin May 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      You make a good point about how hand written mail is not as common anymore, but the book still includes this. I think this book would be a great tool to use to get students excited about writing a hand written letter. The author includes many models of letters in the book that are shared between Abby and Sadeed. Just as you stated, these skills are still nescessary in the modern world and this book could get the students excited about learning this skill.

    • 132 Kathleen Morehouse May 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      That is a great point you made that this book brings back the lost art of handwritting letters. With all the new technology of cell phone texting, and emailing on the computer, and Facebook and whatever else people use these days, people don’t even mail cards or bills its all online no one sits down to write a letter anymore. I think after reading how much each character enjoyed writing to eachother and how much they learned from eachother, many students may be inspired to do the same. The teacher could gradually introduced all the different elements and have them practice before sending real letters out to a pen pal. Hopefully a teacher could make some connections to have pen pals overseas, but if not the students could have just as much fun writing to someone in a different state or school.

  36. 133 Josh Davis May 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Andrew Clements does a great job expressing the different view points of both a male and female as well as the two different cultures. The book is a good read for both male and females and lends a lot of knowledge into cultures unfamiliar to many students in today’s schools. With common core coming into the schools, this book would be wonderful to use in a social studies lesson. It can easy be adapted to learn about culture as well as incorporate a writing lesson.

  37. 134 Christina Nicolas May 17, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I thought this book was written so well and I really liked it a lot. I think both, girls and boys, would read this book considering the characters in the book. It is not focused solely on a male or a female so I think it would be an awesome read for young adults. Students can learn about different cultures and also look at letters that are written throughout the book. They could write their own letters after reading the book to someone in another country or just write one for fun pretending it was for someone in another country.

    • 135 Kathleen Morehouse May 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I also think this book is great for students to learn about people from different cultures. Throughout the story, Abby and Sadeed slowly realize that though they are different, they are also a lot alike as well. I think that it is important for children to be aware that people are all different, but we all have the same basic needs are we are all human and need love, kindness, and respect. I think it would be a great idea for students to just pretend they are writing to a person in a different country, telling the other person about themselves, but I think if the teacher could find a way to do it, it would be most beneficial for the students to actually write to a real person and be able to recieve letters back. Then they would truly learn about another person, it would be exciting when anticipating the letters in the mail, and it would be something they would most likely remember for the rest of their lives.

      • 136 Jenna Selvy November 28, 2012 at 12:38 am


        I completely agree with you about having students write to someone in a different country. The entire time I was reading this book I was thinking about how excited students would become if they were given the opportunity to make a frient like Abby and Sadeed did. Then, they could share as a class everything they have learned. This way, the whole class becomes knowledgeable about the country the class is writing to in a more exiciting way.

      • 137 Amanda Montgomery May 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm


        I totally agree with you! It is really important for children to be aware of differences and that everyone is not the same as them. Children don’t usually understand that there are children out there just like them across the world so this book introduces two children who are similiar and different in many aspects from two different cultures, one that students are familiar with (Abby) and one they are not (Sadeed). I also agree that it would be beneficial for students to have a real pen pal whether it be someone from a different culture or someone from a different school. Students would be excited to write back and forth and learn about a friend who they could build long last relationships with!

  38. 138 Kathleen Morehouse May 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    This book was a great book and if I taught grades 4-6 I would definitely want to use it in my classroom. I think that it would be great to use in many different subjects and sort of use it as a theme for a unit. With Abby and Sadeed writing back and forth to eachother, learning about each America and Afganistan, the different things in each such as flat lands and mountains, and the two learning to appreciate what they have as well as appreciate and understand others it would be a great stepping stone to a great unit. While reading about the two countries, children could be reading more about them and conducting their own research about a particular aspect of each place, not necessarily that one girl lives in a plain flat area and another in the mountains. They could find things out about the animals or climate which would tie into science. They could learn about the people, culture, religion, traditions, history, etc and that would tie into social studies, as well as the cross-cultural understandings that come out in the story is social studies. Creating a pen pal whether it’s in another country, state, school, or even classroom is language arts. Another thing children could do in the classroom is take on the role of one of the characters, Sadeed or Abby and write to the other. There is great potential in reading this book in the classroom and having many possible extensions to go along with the story.

    • 139 Britney Steele November 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      I agree! This book is a great cross-curricular piece of literature to use in the classroom! Abby and Sadeed might live on opposite sides of the world, but they have more in common then they realize. This presents a great opportunity for students to learn about these very different, yet similar, places. I love your idea of taking on the role of the characters. They could continue on the letters or write to someone else as one of the characters. The current beliefs about Afghanistan and its people will make it hard for some students to want to learn about the people but I think it would help them develop their own ideas and possibly see the good that is there too!
      Britney Steele

  39. 140 Britney Steele November 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I was instantly hooked just by the cover of this book. Abby and Sadeed, each in their own very unique ways, keep readers interested in their lives and where they come from. I think my students would feel the same way. There are many stopping points throughout the story where students could extend beyond the book. Like many have already mentioned: researching lifestyles/cultures, writing their own letters, and much more. This book opens up cross curricular opportunities, which is perfect for common core! With the ongoing middle-east crisis, this book helps students learn about other cultures (which may bring up issues from some families) but the importance is that we are seeing the good in people and how we all are unique, yet similar!

    • 141 Jenna Selvy November 28, 2012 at 12:43 am

      I love the connection you made to the Common Core. Not only would this book work for reading, but it could also be incorporated in Social Studies (as previously stated by many people), and language arts. This book could be used to introduce the format of a letter. Then, students could practice their writing skills and learn a new format of writing at the same time. In social studies, students could learn about current events also, especially older students. Many people have discussed research projects and various cultural acivities that I also agree with. Even though this book might be controversal, it should be used in the classroom but approached in the correct way.

  40. 142 Jenna Selvy November 28, 2012 at 12:35 am

    The main thing I loved about this book was its uniquness to the other books normally found in the classroom or in a student’s home. Many times teachers avoid books that involve cultural differences, especially those that could possibly cause problems in the classroom, such as Afghanistan due to events that have occured in the past. However, this is the exact reason this book needs to be included. If students only become exposed to negative things they see on the news about a culture, they might forget that there are people in different countries that want to live happy lives just like them. This book gives children a chance to understand the different cultures that they might not see on a day to day basis.

    • 143 Morgan Killough November 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      I completely agree with you 100%! I definitely think that we need books with a more worldly view in our classrooms today! Students need to see that people are more than stereotypes and I think books like this are a great way to show that! I would definitely include a book like this in my classroom so that students were able to see the other side of things.

    • 144 Erin Hull December 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm


      i completely agree that this book is unique to many other books found in a classroom library and also used in the curriculum. I think it is important to involve books and content addressing cultural differences because it gives students a wider perspective on the world. If we didn’t address these issues with young children, then students would often be close minded and simply unaware of the world around them.

    • 145 Lindsay Clark December 5, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      I definitely agree with the fact that the uniqueness of this book is one of the main reasons that it should be available in the classroom. Both the students and educators should learn to respect differences and be open to learning new things about their peers. This book could be a gateway to discussing different cultures and stereotypes about that certain culture. I would definitely include this book in my classroom library.

  41. 146 Morgan Killough November 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I loved this book! I think that it would be a great way to brink in a cross curricular connection to social studies and the cultural differences across the world. You could also do a letter writing lesson and have the students write letters to a pen pal from a different nation. Another thing that a teacher could do is to have the students each act as either Abby or Sadeed and write letters to each other. I think that both male and female students would like this book due to how relate able the characters are. This book would be a great book for the classroom.

    • 147 Erin Hull December 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm


      I think having students write as Sadeed or Abby is an awesome idea that I never thought of! They could even do research of life as Sadeed in Afghanistan to really get a grasp on life in a different culture. I also agree with you that this book is appealing to both males and females because of the relate-able characters are.

      • 148 Dana Fletcher December 9, 2012 at 2:23 am

        I agree with you, I think this book is appealing to both males and female. I love you idea of having the children do research to find out what the different cultures are like. This would make a great social studies connection! Dana Fletcher

    • 149 Lindsay Clark December 5, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      This is such an awesome book to relate to social studies. The students could further investigate what life is like in Afganistan after reading the book and after hearing about it from Sadeed. I think it’s a great idea to have the students role play as either Abby or Sadeed and write letters to one another. This could create such an engaging lesson for the students and I agree that both boys and girls can relate to this book.

    • 150 Megan Dutchess May 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Morgan, I enjoyed the suggestions that you gave on how this book could be used in the classroom. I think that it would be a great way to introduce a cross curricular connection. I feel that both the girls and boys can connect well to the characters in the story that having them write as one of the characters would be an excellent idea. For the students writing to another student in a different country, it would take more work, but I think that it would be neat if each student could write to someone from a different country. In the book I liked how the teacher had Abby create a bulletin board about what she had learned about Afghanistan and then report to the class her research. I think it would be neat that as each student wrote their letters, they too could find out more about that country and its culture, and at the end of the unit, all of the students could report to the class what they have learned.

    • 151 Moriah April 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      The idea of cross-curricular books is extremely important in schools today. Connecting Social Studies to Reading/Language Arts is a great way for students to learn about two things at the same time. Also, for those who enjoy the letter writing and pen pal system, students can carry that over into a subject that they otherwise may not be fond of.

  42. 152 Kelly McGlynn December 5, 2012 at 12:32 am

    I really loved this book. When I read the title I had assumed that it would be some silly book about gaining extra credit in a classroom based on a simple assignment, I clearly was wrong. This book was so much more and I enjoyed reading it. I loved that we were introduced to another culture that many of us do not know much about. Of course, we know about what we hear on the news, but never the normal lives of their people. I loved seeing two different cultures come together like this and form this bond. I absolutely love the idea of pen pals and would love to do this in my future classroom. I definitely would first introduce this book, maybe as a class read or even an independent read. I think my future students would really be able to relate to the main characters of the story. There are many similarities and differences between the cultures. When I was in third grade, I was given a pen pal named Jasmine. I am uncertain whether she was from another state or country. I learned some details of her life, but I wish I had kept in contact with her. I am sure over the years there would have been so much more I could have learned about her. With technology nowadays this would have been so much easier, back then all we had was e-mail, nothing else. It was a great experience though, one I have never fully forgotten.

    • 153 Erin Hull December 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm


      I also thought of the idea of using this book as a class read and actually doing a pen pal activity in class. It is a great way to connect the book to a real world activity. Students can find out about their pal and where they come from and do a presentation or project based on the similarities and differences between their lives and their pen pals lives. This book is definitely one that can be used to connect reading, language arts, and social studies,.

  43. 154 Dana Fletcher December 9, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Abby loves being outside and climbing! She loves these things so much she has put school on the back burner. Abby soon finds out that she is failing the 6th grade. Her school tells her she can change her D into a B if she completes some extra credit work. Abby obviously agrees because she does not want to be held back. One of her extra credit assignments is to find and write a pen pal. Since Abby loves climbing she picks Afghanistan because it has so many mountains. She begins exchanging letters with her pen pal who she thinks is a girl. But really her pen pal is a boy named Sadeed. Will Abby be mad when she finds out the truth? Read “Extra Credit” to find out! Dana Fletcher

  44. 155 Mollie Beebe December 10, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I thought that this book was an amazing read! I really liked how the pen pal relationship was built between Abby and Sadeed. What seems like an innocent relationship between the two holds so many conflicts. I think that kids will really enjoy the issues that the two face with these letters. Many issues are brought up that kids may never have known such as girls not being very respected education wise, language barriers, and not everyone liking America. This book is certainly an eye opener!

    • 156 Megan Dutchess May 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Mollie, I agree that this book is an eye opener. Students may be sheltered while at home and their parents may only tell them the good things about America, this book can show what else is happening in the world, and not every place has the same rights and freedoms that we have here in America. I know personally, I am more appreciative of what I have and will watch that I do not take certain things for granted, such as being a girl and being able to go to school without anyone judging me or my family’s decision.

    • 157 Rachel Geddes November 25, 2013 at 1:14 am

      You are right when you say that there are many issues that could be brought up in the classroom. Knowing how to address these issues as a teacher are very important. I definitely think it would be important to discuss how women are not valued in other countries still today. This book is definitely an eye opener like you said. Many younger students are probably not aware of some of these issues, but I feel as though they are important for them to learn about.

  45. 158 Mollie Beebe December 10, 2012 at 2:50 am

    With this book I think that there comes a lot of cool activities to do with children. One of the more obvious ones is doing a pen pal from another country. This is a great way for students to open their eyes to other cultures. Another idea would be to do a skype project with another classroom. This is a way to talk and see the other people in a classroom across the world. These are great ways for teachers to use this book in the classroom!

  46. 159 Mollie Beebe December 10, 2012 at 2:53 am

    The only little problem I had with this book is the questioning of if all the issues surfaced in the book are appropriate to elaborate in the classroom. The issues that you get are having children from that country in your classroom. You may have kids who see there culture as wrong and bad with them not valuing women over men and such. You don’t want to have a child feel as if their cultures are getting attacked. This is a book that has to be carefully watched as to not have this happen in the classroom.

    • 160 Maddie Ryan November 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      I agree that there may be some issues about culture that would need to be brought up during class discussions when reading this book, especially if there were a student from Afghanistan. However, I also think that this student would feel special that he/she can relate to a lot of things in the book as well. They might also want to share stories about their family and how they celebrate their culture, which will give all students a bigger perspective. As teachers, we can’t hide the fact that other cultures may think or do things differently than ourselves, but rather educate students and model how important it is to have an open and understanding mind.

  47. 161 Amanda Montgomery May 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I think this book would be great to encourage pen pals across cultures in the classroom. Students could write letters back and forth to students from another country and now with the growing technology, they can even skype them at the end of the writing to see what they look like and talk in person. This book could be a great book to read and encourage writing and understanding of different cultures in the classroom.

    • 162 Kirsten Lowe December 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

      I agree that this would be a great way to encourage pen pals and communicating with peers in different cultures. It is always exciting to see how people similar to you can be so very different at the same time. A great activity that could go hand in hand with the pen pal activity would maybe be for the student to become an expert about that culture or region and present to the class about their findings. I think that would also help to create a meaningful understanding of the content and a deep-rooted appreciation for various cultures.

  48. 163 Amanda Montgomery May 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    As a college student I personally loved this book and the connection that Sadeed and Abby form just from writing letters! I enjoyed learning about another culture that I really didn’t know about, especially because it was a culture I should be familiar with considering the war that goes on between American and Afghansitan. Especially due to the war that is still going on in Afghanistan I believe this book could be a great read for students to better understand the culture but through a child’s eye point of view. They are learning about culture without even knowing it because they are more intrigued in Sadeed and Abby’s lives and conversations.

    • 164 Dana Schwalenberg November 29, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      I also enjoyed this book even though this novel is aimed towards young middle school students. I learned a lot just from the short interactions that the characters had with one another. It is a fun way to introduce another culture to your students. It might spark their imagination to engage in pen pal writing.

  49. 165 Megan Dutchess May 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. I felt that it did a good job on portraying the different cultures. This novel could be used in the classroom when discussing different cultures. I would like to hear the comments from someone who is Muslim descent and hear how they thought the book portrayed their culture.

  50. 166 Shannon Ryan November 19, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I think this was a great novel. I feel like, as many have said, this would be a great instructional tool to interest students in having a pen pal. My question would be, in the classroom, with technology so prevalent in schools today, is mailing letters back and forth to pen pals interesting to students? Is there a possibility of using email instead? Also, it must be taken into consideration if the pen pal has the same technology the U.S. does (especially if they are in a different country). What do you think? I do feel that this is a great way to incorporate social studies into the curriculum while discussing different cultures and countries. Great novel!

    • 167 Maddie Ryan November 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I think that you made a great point about having students emailing back and forth, rather than sending letters. Since technology is being pushed so much nowadays, allowing students to learn and use an important skill such as emailing, will prepare them for the future. In today’s society, we use email more than we would ever use a paper and pen to send a letter. However, I also think there is something personable about writing letters by hand. At an appropriate age, maybe we can give students the option to use email or manual handwriting to write to their pen pals.

      • 168 Kayla Belote November 23, 2013 at 11:32 pm

        Although I have not read this book, it sounds like a wonderful tool for the classroom. I feel getting students in contact with people they may have never met otherwise is an eye opening experience to the cultures around our world. I see your point with using the letters and I feel there could still be a place for handwritten mail, but in a world where the technology is available it may even be a great idea to have something of a Skype session set up for students. Imagine if you could get in contact with a whole classroom somewhere else in the world. The main concern might be any kind of language barrier, but on the other side motivating your students to come up with solutions could serve as very powerful lesson. I also love the idea of using e mail, especially with the push to teach students to type due to Common Core making its test computer driven. E mail serves as a great real world tool!

  51. 169 Maddie Ryan November 21, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    This book surprised me on many levels, especially by the way it kept my attention! I thought that this was a fun way to learn about a culture that I did not know much about, rather than reading articles or learning from a history book. I think that many students would feel the same way if we were to use this book in class. A neat idea might be having a couple different groups in the class reading novels based on different cultures, and I would definitely include this book. During the time that they are reading their novels, they can be assigned a pen pal from the country they are reading about. This way, they will have many experiences to learn from. Whenever they get a new letter from their pen pal, I would have each group share some things that they have learned through the book they are reading and the letters they have been receiving. I enjoyed this book very much and think that children will too.

    • 170 Rachel Geddes November 25, 2013 at 1:04 am

      I agree with you when you say that reading this book was a fun way to learn about a different culture that you did not know much about, because I felt the same way as I was reading it. This book was definitely told from a child’s point of view, so it would be much more relatable, meaningful, and interesting to students rather than just hearing a lecture. This particular book would be a good one to use in the classroom because of the encounters between American and Afghanistan over the past few years. I think it will help students understand more, and appreciate the freedom that we have here in America.

    • 171 Shannon Ryan November 25, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Maddie, I love this idea. I tutor a 9th grader, and he has such a hard time relating material to himself to help him learn and remember things. An activity like this would really help him to gain some understanding through real world assignments. I think sometimes teachers feel limited by the materials and resources they have available to them; however, then we talk about things like this that could be done in the classroom and I get excited about the things I can do as a teacher. I also think that due to the amount of time it would take to send and receive a return letter from halfway across the world would also allow students to experience working on a long term project such as this one.

    • 172 Kirsten Lowe December 2, 2013 at 12:44 am

      I agree with you that this book provides a much better means of learning about a different culture. Sitting and reading from a textbook is exhausting and reading articles typically provides biased information. This book sheds light on how the two cultures really are different while maintaining a respect for both. I really liked that about this book. Although the cultures are very different it didn’t impose the angle that one was better than the other because of their unique values. I like the idea of using this book in groups and introduce pen pal writing that way.

  52. 173 Rachel Geddes November 25, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I think there are many ideas that were presented in this story that could be discussed in the classroom. I also think this book could be used to teach different ideas across the curriculum. This book was about a little girl named Abby who was not doing very well in school. In order for her to go on to the next grade, she would have to complete this extra credit assignment in which she had a pen pal from a different country. Abby was assigned someone from Afghanistan. Abby ended up writing to this boy named Sadeed. However, their writing had to be kept a secret because boys from Afghanistan were not supposed to be talking to girls yet, especially ones from America. So, Abby wrote to Sadeed, and Sadeed wrote to Abby through his younger sister Amira.
    Throughout the story, it was really interesting to see both characters points of view, along with their ways of life. I also liked how the story was told from a child’s point of view, how there were illustrations throughout the book, and how the actual letters were included. Besides learning about how different Sadeed’s and Abby’s lives are, I picked up on another idea. I think this book could be used to teach about how sometimes people in America take things for granted. For example, in the story the children from Afghanistan were so interested in hearing the letters that came back from Abby. However, when Abby was discussing the letters from Amira and Sadeed, the students in her class were not interested until she talked about how violent a certain sport was that they play in Afghanistan. It is kind of sad that this is was got the students interested in what Abby was talking about. I think this book could be used to teach about how things are in Afghanistan, and how we are lucky to have freedom here in America.
    This book could also be used in other subjects, because for reading and writing, students could get their own pen pals. They could also learn about the history and geography of the place from where their pen pals are from, and they could compare their lives to who they are writing too.

    • 174 Valerie Lindauer December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      I also enjoyed seeing the two characters points of views. I particularly liked both of the characters to receiving their first letters. I thought it was really nice how Abby put so much effort into her second letter based on the one she received. I think the portion of the book showed me particularly how much children can learn from an assignment like this.

  53. 175 Shannon Ryan November 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I think that this book was wonderful for discussing learning about other cultures through writing or emailing or whatever. However, I also see this book being a springboard for discussing different values in other cultures. For example, here in the U.S. I don’t think it matters whether a boy is writing to a girl or vise versa. On the other hand, that is a huge deal in this religion over in Afghanistan. This may spark discussion as to why that is, but as a teacher, it is possible that this discussion could turn to religion – which as we learned last week in class – is a hot debate topic in schools. However, in my opinion, I cannot see why this discussion would be a problem. If your students are learning from it and are engaged and interested in what they are learning, why not teach it?

    • 176 Jen Hyson December 4, 2013 at 1:10 am

      I also agree with you when you say that religion is a hot topic in schools today. The discussion involving this book could possibly turn into talking about religion. Some parents and critics may object to this, but it would be a good way to compare cultures and different values. If the students are interested in the book, they should be able to read it and apply it to real life situations and issues. If they aren’t aware, they wont be able to learn about other parts of the world.

  54. 177 McKenzie Wilcox November 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    ^just as it is written above the possibilities for the classroom are numerous. One of the aspects of our developing culture that saddens me greatly, is the lose of handwritten letters. There are not too many people who would frown upon seeing a note from a friend, pen-pal or family member in the mailbox. While connecting to content standards this could also be an opportunity to instill a love of snail mail! And with that would also be the lesson of teaching letter formatting and even applying the steps of the writing process!

    • 178 Tracy Duryea December 12, 2013 at 2:24 am

      I agree with McKenzie. I think students today are too consumed with technology and media. By handwriting letters, students can feel a more personal connection than typing something on the computer. A handwritten letter is more personal and not something that can be clicked and sent in an instant. This book would definitely motivate students to write handwritten letters and find a pen pal across the country. By writing to a pen pal, students can learn about different cultures all across the world in a unique and interesting way. Most of the students learn about culture through picture books and technology. By writing letters to other students across the globe, the students can learn about what other children their age are experiencing and connect with them.

  55. 179 Nicole Harding November 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It puts in perspective the cultural differences between America and Afghanistan. Many children do not understand or even realize that places around the world are not the same as America. Instead of having students read from a textbook about the differences, they can see them from reading this book. Using this book would allow students to see these differences in a meaningful way. Children their age are experiencing this so they will be able to connect and feel emotion toward the events occurring in the book. When children feel emotion toward something it is more likely that they will remember what they have learned.

    • 180 Courtney Daniels December 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      Nicole, I agree that when children feel emotion toward something they are more likely to remember what they have learned. This book would be a great read in the classroom. I think it would be neat to have the children read the book and then learn about the culture behind it. I would then have them create an epal account which would allow them to have a pen pal via the internet. They are not only learning about the way of life in the book but they will actually be able to communicate with someone living there to learn more. This will be an experience they will remember forever.

  56. 181 Nicole Harding November 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I want to reply to the comment about teaching religion in school. I feel as though it is a hot topic of debate and many people feel uncomfortable with this particular discussion. I do not know if it is right or wrong to teach in school, but I do know religion is a part of life. As future educators we are responsible for the WHOLE child. If religion is a part of life it should be taught. Of course we are not there to infringe on the beliefs of others or tell someone what they should believe in. I feel as though children should not be sheltered. They live in a world where religion is present and they should be educated about the religions that exist and what different religions entail.

  57. 182 Kirsten Lowe December 2, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I really enjoyed reading “Extra Credit,” and I feel like middle-school aged children would also. I felt that it portrayed attitudes between different cultures very well by including the adult characters that acted as elders. I appreciated that the author did not try to create a happy ever after ending to compromise the reality of the issue today. This would be beneficial literature for children to read because it shows that not everyone is like you, lives the same way, or has the same values, but we are all worth respecting in our communities and cross-culturally. Also, through reading this book I feel like children would be able to take on a perspective from either of the main characters and form their own opinions on the matter as well as learn to sympathize with those characters that reflect children of a different culture that actually live that way.

    • 183 Jen Hyson December 4, 2013 at 1:07 am

      I also agree with you when you say that it portrayed attitudes, because although it was not a happy ending, it was a great way to show children the reality of todays issues. They are able to learn that everyone lives different and that they should not criticize others for it. Everyone does have different values, and this book shows children that they need to learn different views in order to create their own and to be more educated about issues going on in the world.

  58. 184 Valerie Lindauer December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Extra Credit is a great book to raise awareness about life and issues in other areas around the world. This book provides a unique comparison between the lifestyle of young American students and the lifestyle of young Kabul students. Students can begin to see the privileges they take for granted in American like our education systems, our homes, and even just the facts we can communicate with people of the opposite gender. It also raises awareness to the fact that there are groups of people out there do not like America. I think this is an important concept to bring awareness to we always teach students about why America is so great, but we never highlight our problems that we need to fix. Overall I think this book is a great teaching tool that would intrigue and excite students.

  59. 185 Shelly December 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I agree that the book Extra Credit should be used within the classrooms. It tells the story about two middle school children writing letters to one another from two totally different countries. It show the students the differences that can be found around the world. It can encourage them to learn about other countries other than America. After reading this book the teacher could extend the lesson into a writing assignment for the students to write to pen pals. It would be awesome if the pen pals where from another country though the concept could work within the same country, state, between schools in the area or even between other classes with in the school.

  60. 186 Jen Hyson December 4, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I thought “Extra Credit” was a great book to read and i feel that students would enjoy it and be able to relate to it. They were able to learn things about each other, and their cultures. They learned how their values and cultures were different from each other. It was a great book to show the reality of the real world and all the issues that take place today. It also was a vert relatable topic for some students because they may not be motivated to do their work, and they amy be assigned an extra credit assignment. I also feel that this book will encourage students to want to write to a pen-pal to see how they are living differently then themselves. I was a great book and students should defiantly be introduced to it in the classroom.

  61. 187 Nicole Harding December 4, 2013 at 3:08 am

    I would also like to comment on the penpal idea presented in the book. I think children would find it fascinating to interact with a person across the world. I also think the activity would be very motivating since it has meaning. I thought it was a great idea to have children write the letters and connect to that to a letter theme teaching children the format of a letter.

  62. 188 Jessica Smith December 12, 2013 at 2:12 am

    I really liked reading this book! It was an easy read and it was actually interesting to me. I think the whole idea of pen pals is something that can go over great in the classroom with students not only interacting with one another in the classroom, but also other students all over the world. I have seen this idea done in the classroom before and the children were absolutely fascinated by it. Also, I think that middle school children can best relate to the main character in this book because of the time period in their lives. These students are usually unaware if they actually love or hate school, just like Abby. With this book, Abby can show them the consequences.

    • 189 Kelsey Adams April 30, 2014 at 3:20 am

      The more I reflect back onto Extra Credit, the more I become aware of how interesting the pen pals aspect has onto the context, content, and meaning of this text. While this novel can be understood on several levels and by several ages, I do think that middle-school-aged readers would relate to this novel and characters much more than others.

  63. 190 Kara Tolson April 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    This book is a great example of how to bring transdisciplinary ideas into the classroom! For writing, students could each have a pen pal that they correspond with. In this story, the pen pals cross cultural divides (Afghanistan and the United States), however this same activity could be completed with another local school if the international idea is too difficult to facilitate. Social Studies would be covered by discussing the geographical location of the pen pal and the characteristics of the places that they live. Math could be involved by determining how far away the pen pals are from each other. Bringing this book into the classroom would be a great idea, and as a future teacher it will definitely be included in my classroom library!

    • 191 Abigayle Mann April 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I hadn’t thought about doing pen pals with a local school… that could be really cool as well! I agree, definitely a good book worth including in the classroom library.

    • 192 Kelsey Adams April 30, 2014 at 3:18 am

      Wow! What some great suggestions that you made regarding how this one text can be utilized in various subjects. While I thought of several reading and writing activities, it slipped my mind that Extra Credit could also be used for geography and mathematics!

    • 193 Alex Greissinger May 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      I really like how you incorporated math into this book! That’s a great idea, and a great way to make this novel cross curricular. I agree with you that it is a book that should be included in your classroom library. It shows a cultural divide and how it can be dealt with despite varying perspectives. Books such as this would get students to have their own pen pals, which would be a nice classroom project.

    • 194 Michelle Clark November 20, 2014 at 1:25 am

      I appreciated your reply and discussion on incorporating transdiciplinary ideas into the classroom with the use of this novel. I liked that you discussed the topics of Math and Social Studies so I began to brainstorm ways that you could include Science as well. Abby often discussed her interests in rock climbing and her fascination with the mountains in Afghanistan. This would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast landscapes and land forms found around the globe. You could ask students to select a country of interest and research the major land forms found in that country. STEM ideas could also be incorporated by discussing what technologies allow the people to travel freely despite large mountain ranges, volcanoes, or lush forests.

    • 195 Laura Devlin November 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Kara, I love your ideas about using this book in multiple subject areas! I especially like that you incorporated math! I think students would really enjoy having a pen pal just like the characters in the book did. Even if the students they are writing to are from another local school, they can still come to realize that they have things in common with people they have never even met! This is similar to the way Abby and Sadeed realized their connection allowed them to form a friendship even though they had never met. I would love to add this book to my classroom library as well!

  64. 196 Abigayle Mann April 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I found “Extra Credit” to be a very enjoyable read and I think students would as well. It showed Afghanistan in a new light for myself and would give the students background on places they probably don’t know much about and seem very foreign to them. The story is written in a way that makes it very kid-friendly and easy to understand, but at the time it gives lots of great details and facts about what life is like in Afghanistan. I think it is really important that students are able to see both perspectives about children that live in a different place from them: they are very alike and different at the same time. Abby and Sadeed have many things in common and the students would be able to see that. But they would also be able to recognize how different their life is and all the things they have that some children don’t. Hopefully the students would be grateful and interested in learning more about Afghanistan and other places like that.
    I think this would be a great book to use in the classroom as a way to introduce pen pals. In my middle school there was a pen pal club you could join and write letters to other kids our age around the world. It was such a cool experience then. It practices skills such as reading and writing in a real-world context. Plus, there are few things more exciting than getting mail!

    • 197 Kelsey Adams April 30, 2014 at 3:15 am

      You made a great comment regarding the importance that students are able to see both perspectives about children that live in a different place from them: they are very alike and different at the same time. This concept can have a practical application within the classroom in terms of various perspectives that can occur and be demonstrated on the same topic. This is important for young readers to understand when still developing their literacy skills!

  65. 198 Kelsey Adams April 30, 2014 at 3:11 am

    Overall, I found Extra Credit by Andrew Clements an enjoyable and easy read. The main character, Abby Carson, a likeable Illinois 6th grader, is in danger of being held back unless she brings her grades up and completes an extra credit project. This project requires her to exchange letters and ultimately become pen pals with a young boy from Afghanistan. They were able to learn things about each other, and their cultures. They learned how their values and cultures were different from each other. I found the illustrations and “handwritten” letters an interesting aspects added to the novel that sets this book apart for the other novels in this genre.

    • 199 Alex Greissinger May 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      I like how you address the letters looking handwritten. This makes the novel much more personal for readers. Also, I agree that it a unique attribute to the book. Not many novels have taken the time to do something like this, and readers can better connect with the characters.

  66. 200 Alex Greissinger May 1, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I really enjoyed reading Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. It’s crazy to think that something so simple as a letter exchanged by two young children can be perceived so differently. For Abby, the letters were a fun extra credit project in which she got to know someone from a different part of the world. From Sadeed’s perspective, he was not even supposed to write letters to her because he was a boy and she was a girl. The author portray’s these aspects in a way young readers can understand. It made this book an enjoyable read, and allowed readers to understand two very different perspectives.

  67. 201 Michelle Clark November 20, 2014 at 1:17 am

    I really liked this novel and believe that it would be a great addition to a classroom library. The material covered is authentic and would be easy for many students to connect with. I found it interesting to watch both characters evolve after the exchange of their first letter, particularly Abby’s character. As a reader Clements left me wanting for more at the end of the novel!

    Earlier in the semester I read the novel “The Breadwinner” and think that it would be interesting to develop a literature study that incorporated both novels as “The Bread Winner” takes place in Afghanistan.

    • 202 Laura Devlin November 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Michelle, I also read “The Breadwinner” this semester, and I love your idea about making connections between the two books! I hadn’t even thought of that! Maybe both of these books could be options for the students to read within the same unit. After reading, students could partner with someone who read the other book, and they could do a project comparing the two books and identifying common themes.

      • 203 Michelle Clark November 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        I like your idea about giving students the choice to read either novel. This also allows each student to be an “expert” on the novel they read within their pair. I was curious to find out how the two books compare as far as Lexile measures are concerned and found that they both fall within Grade 5 with Extra Credit having a slightly higher measure.

        I really like project based learning and thought it would also be neat to have students research another country of interest, pair with a pen pal in class or even another class in the building and have students investigate what country their pen pal is from. The lesson could be differentiated by the nature of the assignment depending how complex and creative students want to make their clues!

    • 204 Meghan McNulty December 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      I plan on reading The Breadwinner as well for my literary theory paper. If I were to incorporate these two novels into my instruction, students could use reading charts and graphic organizers to compare the two novels. Students could also complete a writing piece comparing the two main characters from Afghanistan, or a narrative piece that chronicles the two characters becoming friends.

  68. 205 Emily Grundy November 20, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Overall, I believe that Andrew Clements’ book Extra Credit would be a wonderful class read for third grade and up. It allows the students to see how life in Afghanistan is very similar but also very different to the life that we live here. They also are able to see Afghanistan through childrens’ eyes instead of simply adults or on the news. I also thought it would be cool to have the students from my future classroom pair up with a classroom in another country and be pen pals. The students would enjoy writing to their counter-parts in another part of the country. There are many websites such as the Girl Scout Postcard exchange that I have participated in the past that would benefit my future students. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I have found many transdisplinary ways to use it within my classroom.

    • 206 Bethany Stevens December 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Even as a young girl I have always thought the idea of pen pals is something really cool. I mean you get to talk to someone you do not know while awaiting a physical letter in the mail, assuming you using snail mail. I think that doing pen pals in the classroom would be a rewarding experience for the students. Even if it was something as simple as writing to other kids their age in another school in the county or in the state. Doing them from one country to another would be simply amazing and great for everyone!

  69. 207 Laura Devlin November 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    In the book Extra Credit, a young girl from the United States (Abby) and a boy from Afghanistan (Sadeed) become pen pals through a school assignment. One cultural issue is that they must write to each other in a secretive manner because in Sadeed’s culture, it is inappropriate for a boy to be corresponding with a girl in this way. Another issue that arises in the book is the education of women. In Afghanistan, some people frowned upon girls going to school. Sadeed found himself in trouble because his sister attended school, and they were writing to Abby, a female American student. One great aspect of this book is that although it includes international and cultural issues, the story is still relatable for readers. Abby is just a girl struggling to keep up in school, and she seems to wonder about the world. Many readers can relate to having difficulties in school or having questions about parts of the world they have not seen. Sadeed wants to write to Abby even though he knows it isn’t proper. He has to make a decision on his own about how to handle the situation. He wants Abby to know that he is the one who has been writing the letters signed by his sister. He makes the risky decision to tell Abby because he feels that there is a connection between them that creates a wonderful friendship. Students can relate to Sadeed’s character as they think about their own friendships as well as tough decisions they have had to make. This would be a great book to add to a classroom library because it can show students that even people from different cultures can still have a lot in common and get along.

    • 208 Emily Grundy November 25, 2014 at 3:41 am

      I also agree that students could relate to the tough decisions they have had to make throughout the classroom setting. I feel that this book could be used as the basis of a peacekeeping unit in the classroom to show that how different cultures can interact and get along within society.

  70. 209 Dana Schwalenberg November 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I felt that this novel allows room for a number of activities and ideas. As a teacher candidate reading this novel, I was touched to read the teachers’ support through Abby’s rough time. Having a box full of extra credit options is a great tool to use in the classroom for those struggling students. I also was able to pull the idea of using pen pals within my classroom. I felt that when young students read this novel they will want to participate in the same experience as Abby. It will leave room for a number of actives after sharing individual thoughts about the novel.

    • 210 Ali Iannucci November 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      I agree with Dana in that this book an inspire the idea of having pen pals in the classroom. This is a great language arts extension because it allows students to write creatively about their lives, while practicing appropriate letter-writing styles. Writing is more meaningful when there is a definite audience. It also gives students the opportunity to learn about other people who are different from themselves. Even if international pen pals cannot be arranged, corresponding with students in another state would produce a similar result. This integrates social studies as well: students would learn about other lifestyles and other geographical places.

    • 211 Meghan McNulty December 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      I agree that there are so many ideas in this novel that we could use in the classroom. I love the idea of giving students an international pen pal so they can learn that there is so much more out there in the world that people in America have no knowledge about. It is important for them to expand their horizons and become more culturally aware, and the characters in Extra Credit demonstrate that.

    • 212 Sidney Edsall December 11, 2014 at 2:02 am


      I agree with you that the novel can bring so many activities that we can use in our classrooms. I also want to incorporate pen pals in my classroom so students can see what other cultures are like. I also want my students to understand that they can be friends with someone who are different from them.

      Having the extra credit box is a wonderful option for struggling students. It could also be used for students who are absent a lot from the classroom.

    • 213 Cassie Felesky November 26, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      I agree, I love the idea of having a box of extra credit opportunities for students in the classroom or for students who want an extra challenge. It gives the students a choice on the project or it can be randomized like the teacher did in the book. The pen pal idea is a great way for students to understand different cultures, instead of just reading about them in a textbook. They would have an interactive experience and learn from a person who is actually living in the country. After writing back and forth, the students can research the place where their pen pals live and compare similarities and differences. They can also reflect on the experience and write about why it was important or how it affected them. It is also a great way to tie in multiple subject areas with the integration of this project.

  71. 214 Meghan McNulty December 1, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Andrew Clements’s book Extra Credit chronicles the pen pal relationship between a boy in Afghanistan and a girl in the United States. From halfway around the world, Sadeed and Abby discover that despite major cultural and gender differences, the two have more in common than they think. By reading this book, young adults are able to discover the differences between countries in terms of respect for elders, respect for the opposite sex, and the value of education. While Abby is just a few assignments short of having to repeat a grade, Sadeed values his schoolwork more than anything. He respects his teachers wholeheartedly. He has been taught that girls and boys should not have casual relationships, while Abby interacts with boys everyday in school. This book would be a great tool to use to teach cultural relations and gender differences.

  72. 215 Sidney Edsall December 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    In the book Extra Credit, it describes the pen pal relationship between Abby, a girl from the United States, and Sadeed, a boy from Afghanistan. This book shows the similarities and differences in two different countries. I really liked this book because it shows that two people from two separate cultures can be friends. The book goes into enough details about the cultural differences in the United States and Afghanistan that will let readers at this age group understand what is going on and won’t be hard for them to understand. I love the idea of having a pen pal from another country and would like to cooperate this in my classroom so students can learn about different cultures and have an open mind.

    • 216 Bethany Stevens December 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      I just happen to read your review of the book just after I posted mine. I think that we both have similar ideas about the book. That it allows for the readers to see what life is like in a misunderstood part of the world. The idea that we can be friends with people from other cultures is something that kids these days may have a hard time understanding, but I think that this book is something that will help them see the positives of doing so.

  73. 217 Bethany Stevens December 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    The book, Extra Credit, is a story about two characters’ who live in two different parts of the world. Abby, a girl in the USA and Sadeed, a boy in Afghanistan have a pen pal relationship. In the story the characters learn about the similarities and the differences of life in the USA to Afghanistan.
    I liked how he showed us two different characters’ lives in two different places in the world. As the reader I was able to see how these two people who live in two different cultures have so much in common by the end of the book. I personally enjoyed how the author chose to write about a boy in Afghanistan, coincidence or not, since there is a lot of tension in that area in the world today. This allows us as the reader to picture that part of the world as a place we can come to understand more about. It allows us to see that they share many concerns that are similar to ours. In the end though the characters were able to see that once you learn about different cultures and places that your opinions are wrong even though it may be a difficult thing to let go of.

    • 218 Brooke Oehler December 10, 2014 at 2:07 am

      I agree with your statement that the book allows us to see as readers that there are many concerns within Afghanistan that are very similar to the ones within the United States. I think it allows readers to think of their situations as something beyond just an occurrence within their lives, but something that is affecting people in other parts of the world. This book definitely expands the mind of the reader and as the characters become closer together within their connection even though they are from different cultures. Personally, it really gives a fresher outlook to a culture that is referred to in such a negative way here in the United States. It shows the differences in values between Abby and Sadeed. Overall, this is a great way for students to connect and capture the essence of a different culture.

  74. 219 Brooke Oehler December 10, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Although this book is based on the concept of pen pals, I like the overall lesson that this book teaches which in my opinion is that everyone is connected no matter where they come from. I feel like this is an important lesson for students to learn. I think it would be a good opening exercise to have the class write anonymous letters about themselves and have them distributed throughout the class. The students can then draw connections that they found within their classmate’s letters.

  75. 220 Brooke Oehler December 11, 2014 at 12:24 am

    This book would also be very beneficial for a venn diagram exercise. Students can complete a venn diagram on the story as it progresses. This could be an individual exercise or an activity within the class. This activity will benefit visual learners and help them to keep on track to what has happened within the book and what we learned about Abby and Sadeed.

    • 221 Sidney Edsall December 11, 2014 at 1:57 am

      I love the idea of using a venn diagram while reading this story. Students can really understand the similarities and differences between two cultures if they have a visual representation. It can also create a whole class discussion on what the students learned about reading the relationship between Abby and Sadeed.

    • 222 Cassie Felesky November 26, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      This is a great idea for students after reading the book. They could complete a graphic organizer before reading, so the teacher can see what they already know about Afghanistan. It could be a brainstorming web with different categories or a K-W-L- chart. After reading, they can write what they learned and compare how it differs from previous knowledge and assumptions. They can also use the webs/organizers to a writing activity or research project afterwards.

      • 223 Karen Carty November 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

        A K-W-L chart about Afghanistan would be so interesting for students to complete! All we tend to hear about the country is the negative because of the conflicts and fighting in that region. I would be really interested to find out if any students knew anything else about that country besides what they hear on the news or from their parents. It could also make a really interesting research project!

  76. 224 Cassie Felesky November 19, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    I would recommend Extra Credit to readers because of the themes it encompasses and the overall message. This book can be utilized with a wide range of readers from middle school and up. The book switches perspectives from the two characters: Abby to Sadeed. Abby Carson is failing sixth grade, and needs to get good grades and complete extra credit assignments. She pulls a random assignment from a hat and it informs her that she would be writing to a pen pal from a different country. She chooses Afghanistan because she is interested with the mountains and loves being outdoors. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, Sadeed (same age) is one of the best students in his school because he can write in English very well. He writes the letters to Abby but has to pretend to write it from the perspective of his younger sister because it is forbidden for boys to write to girls. The story unfolds as Sadeed sends out a secret letter and gets in trouble, and as Abby realizes where he lives is very different. This book is important for students to read because it explains the cultural differences between countries. It is also appealing because it is from two younger perspectives. They are completely opposite in terms of work ethic for school. This book teaches appreciation of culture and different views. When I was in middle school, I had to take a World Language Connections class, and we had pen pals. It was great learning experience in understanding different cultures instead of just reading about it in a text book. A hands-on personal experience will appeal to students.

    • 225 Brooke Phelps November 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      HI Cassandra,

      What was your favorite part of the novel and what type of classroom activities would you allow your students to partake in to express the overall theme of the novel?


    • 226 Audrey Mancini December 1, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      The idea of pen-pals in the classroom is something that has always interested me. You’re definitely right when you say it explains cultural differences effectively through the use of two younger perspectives. That contrast of culture is important for students to see, and begin to understand. Being able to understand other cultures and countries is something that students can benefit greatly from. The book’s description of the differing school experiences as well is a great way to relate to readers.

      • 227 Megan Ott May 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm

        I love the idea of doing a pen pal assignment with another country, as opposed to a different school in the area or school from a bordering state. It really allows the two individuals to make comparisons and contrasts between the two life styles and gain appreciate for the different cultures. I do however wonder (if at all possible) if having the two individuals be boy-girl as opposed to girl-girl or boy-boy makes a bigger impact in learning the variances in the two cultures. None- the- less if i were to carry out this activity i feel as though it is extremely important for the individuals to be similar in age. Overall, a pen pal could be something very fun and interesting to do to get students engaged in writing.

  77. 228 Rachel Liberto November 23, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    I love the themes in this novel, they represent how different our lives are than others. These themes of differences that appear in the novel would intrigue children and young adults because of the social aspects of life that we do not seem to understand that exist in other cultures. We as Americans do not often think about how in other countries, boys and girls are not allowed to speak, women do not have equal rights, and that not everyone has the privilege to go to school. Even the physical aspects of not having a home, clean water or plenty of food to eat, it is strange to us that people do not have access to their daily needs. This book explains those struggles in an understandable way. Clements does not make you feel bad for Sadeed and his family in the novel, he just explains how life is, and can be, so different for people in other places. The dramatic aspect of how Abby could possibly fail her class also comes into play, along with the conflict that Sadeed has in his village, which draws readers in and appeals to the younger audiences.

    • 229 Cassie Felesky November 26, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      I agree that appreciating and learning about culture was one of the most important aspects of the novel. It’s extremely important for our students to learn about cultures around the world. I think the book has a great lesson for students because many have Abby’s perspective, and they are unaware of differences in cultures. I think the idea of having pen pals in the classroom would be an engaging way for students to interact with others around the world and to compare how their lives are the same/different. This would teach them awareness and appreciation of diversity.

      • 230 Jill Hitchens November 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        There are many opportunities for students to learn a lot about other culture right here in america. This may not be as “interesting” but it could be a way of getting around prejudiced parents and still have the students learn a great deal about others. There are many dialects, income status, cultural, and language differences that can be found right here. Students could learn about the homeless/poor, people in the Appellations(which practically speak a different language). The list goes on. I’m not saying that this would be the same as writing to someone from another country but it may be the next best thing. Especially for someone that has never been somewhere else and/or traveled.

    • 231 Kelly Snyder December 7, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      I agree with your thoughts about the importance of having a book like this in the classroom. I think many times we take for granted all the privileges that we have in the United Dates and it’s important for students to take time to appreciate how many opportunities we do have. Imagine all the lesson plans that could be created around this book!

  78. 232 Brooke Phelps November 27, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I enjoyed reading this book. I believe that appreciating and learning about others culture is very important for children of all ages. By using this book as a way for students to learn about differences in cultures around the world, teachers can integrate many different content areas into a lesson. Student can write to their own pen pals discussing their customs and traditions in America, and then compare and contrast it to others students ways of living in other parts of the world. Students can also locate different parts of the world on a map and integrate different social studies concepts into a lesson. I would use this book for the students in my future classroom.

    • 233 Jill Hitchens November 29, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      I agree that this would be a good book to add to the classroom. Also, just the pen pal aspect in general. At the same time, just like in the book there will more than likely be parents that do not agree with writing to students of another culture. As a teacher, how would you handle this kind of situation?

      • 234 Brooke Phelps November 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm


        As a teacher I would send home a letter to parents explaining exactly what the book is about and the theme and lessons of the novel. I would be sure to let parents and guardians know exactly what type of class projects we were going to be creating for the lesson, and how the pen pals relate to the concepts in the book and how it teaches students about other cultures. How would you handle the situation?

    • 235 Rachel Liberto November 30, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      I love your idea of how to incorporate this book cross-curricularly. What a cool experience it would be for the students to write to children from another country, and learn just how different their lives are from their own. I wish I could have had that experience in school. I hope you get to make this happen in your future classroom!

      • 236 Megan Ott May 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        I also strongly like how you want to incorporate the book cross-curricularly. I might also take it a step further and ask my students to inquire about what types of math skills their pen pal would be learning to see if it relates to how we are learning and maybe even examine how they might solve particular problems. I, like Rachel, never had the luck of having a pen pal and I really wish I had because i believe that there is so much one can learn about different cultures. As far as the parents consenting to this, i feel that sending home a letter explaining the text and the multiple benefits and lessons that students would gain from this is an excellent idea. However, i would most likely do that for every book that we read as opposed to just this one.

  79. 237 Karen Carty November 29, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    This is a great book for so many different reasons. I loved the theme of second chances that was presented at the beginning of the book. I think it is so important to give our students second chances and allow them to fail, then pick themselves up and try again. I also really enjoyed the underlying theme of engagement. Engagement is so critical to keeping our students interested and actively participating in the story. The only reason this unlikely friendship developed was Abby’s passion for mountains and Sadeed’s close proximity to them. Abby was engaged in the project because there was an aspect that related to her. I also thought this story was great for all the other reasons stated in the comments, such as the unlikely friendship between the characters and the aspect of diversity and learning from those who are different than you. Great book with lots of applications in the classroom!

    • 238 Rachel Liberto November 30, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      I love how you mentioned second chances. I agree that it is critical to allow students to fall short of expectations sometimes. It may not make them feel good, but as teachers, we cannot hold their hand through every aspect of school as they go throughout their life, therefore we cannot hold their hand through every activity in the classroom. That would be a great alternate lesson to teach about from this book that I didn’t even realize. Thanks for the idea!

  80. 239 Audrey Mancini December 1, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    One theme in this novel that struck me, was the personal discoveries of Abby and Sadeed that led to their understanding of the differences in our world, namely in education. In Sadeed’s country, women and girls are not viewed as equals, and are not believed to be given the opportunity to have an education. By corresponding, they soon find this out, and are forced to come to the realizations of these differences. The pursuit of their correspondence truly represents how people all around the world can begin to understand each other better when we are open to, and when we are inquisitive of the world around us. I think that having this story be about children is extremely beneficial for students to read about, being able to relate to the characters. It also shows that our world’s problems do not always have to do with adults; children are affected, and can be a part of the change, and even sometimes the beginning. Getting students to care about that, and be interested in making a difference is advantageous for furthering their curiosity, and their desire for knowledge and tolerance of others.

  81. 240 Kelly Snyder December 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I think this book is filled with several lessons that students can take away. One is the importance of working hard and taking school seriously. Abby is a smart girl but at first is putting no effort into school and now is facing the possibility of failing the sixth grade. I also think this book is a great way to show students in our country just how fortunate we are. Sadeed discusses in the book how it is up to a girl’s father whether or not she is allowed to attend school for students in the United States that would be unimaginable. Abby finds it hard to believe that in Afghanistan it is incredibly inappropriate for Sadeed to be contacting her, solely because she is a girl. This book could lead to many great class discussions and reflective activities as well as inspire students to want to learn more about what education is like in other cultures around the world!

    • 241 Kaitlyn OCarroll April 18, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Kelly, I admire your thinking strategies with the lessons in the story. While the book shows that Abby wasn’t a strong student, the lesson of her doing her school work and performing to her abilities will show students dedication and hard work. Class discussions are a big thing in the classrooms I have observed in. Using this book to promote discussions on how their cultures are different or why is was deemed inappropriate for Sadeed to exchange letters with her. Students in America don’t necessarily see how that can be harmful but after reading and understanding students can educate others by doing a discussion or even creating a report on what they learned from beginning to end.

  82. 242 Julie Sandrock December 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    I really enjoyed the idea of taking a bad situation and turning it into something wonderful such as promoting communication between two young people that may have never had the chance to speak before this situation. Though there is a fear of not finishing 6th grade, there is also a delight in the extra credit assignment she has received. She is able to view the world from a different perspective and gain knowledge on cultures across the world. There are many effective and productive ways to use this book in the curriculum, including education the youth about cultural norms that may seem odd to us in America. The life lessons that come with this book are never ending, and there are so many great teachings for a student to take with them as they grow into adulthood. Not only does Abby get to know Sadeed’s world, but also he is also able to see how it is like to live in America. It shows the communication between the two young students, and how they can often relate while at the same time living completely different lives. There are many noticeable differences in their lives as well, and it is interesting to see the contrasts between the two characters.

  83. 243 Jazzmin James March 1, 2016 at 2:18 am

    I really enjoyed reading Extra Credit. It embodied a lot of topics that can be converted into many different lesson plans. I throughly enjoyed the way the novel addressed a student begging close to stay back in school. Students to this day are being held back for one reason or another. This book shows if you apply yourself throughout the school year a student would not have to stay back. It also informs children everything that they would be missing out on if they have to stay back a grade, such as not having the same friends, having to re take the same classes. This book provides motivation for students in that sense. I also liked that students would be able to get to learn about a different country that is not the same as the United States. This book brings awareness to a culture students might not know anything or little bout. As a teacher it presents a good idea of collobrating with a teacher in a different country to have students become pen pals to learn from eachother what it is like in their countries. This exposes children to culture, a new language, a way of living they might not know about, and more. In schools we are pushing to become more culturally aware and through the use of pen pals that would greatly help.

    • 244 Ashlie Webster May 4, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      I think so many people are caught up in the overall message that they don’t look at the smaller messages as well, so I’m glad you brought up the idea that you earn your success in school and if you slack off, there will be consequences. Granted, this was a pretty cool consequence, but I’m glad you mentioned the various situations we could use this book for and make it appeal to students dealing with Abby’s situation as well. You could use this book to create an entire unit that is more than just social studies, but also math, science, and more because of the use of mountains and the moral topics.

  84. 245 Kaitlyn OCarroll April 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I had the pleasure of reading Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. The book was well written that a young reader would be able to understand the differences both children have. The main theme that crossed my mind when reading was the cultural differences. While many students will agree they can relate more to Abby than Sadeed. In Sadeed’s country we learned that it wasn’t typical that females went to school let alone knew the English language. By corresponding to the letters, both students soon learn more about each other and their cultures but most importantly about the individual themselves. Extra Credit is a book that brings awareness of other cultures that students might not be able to learn about during the course of the school year. I would recommend and use this book in my classroom in the future because it empowers the movement that teachers can collaborate from around the world meanwhile teach students of other cultures. In many schools today we are not exposing students to other cultures as much as we should be. Pushing books such as this one into the curriculum with not only be a great read but push awareness culturally through use of literature.

    • 246 Justyna Jordan May 2, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      I agree. I really liked this book because it makes me think: What if we as adults did this? I think a lot of adults need to open themselves up more to different cultures. If we tried to be a lot more open we would have a lot more peace in our world.

    • 247 Ashlie Webster May 4, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      I agree and love the idea to collaborate around the world. I always wanted a pen pal growing up and I think kids today would still think it’s the greatest thing ever. And you’re right, we need to be exposing students to more cultures or we end up with the race/culture issues we have in today’s world.

      • 248 Megan Ott May 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm

        I like the point that you make, Justyna, that we do as adults need to be more accepting of other cultures and their beliefs. I can only imagine the impact that we would make if we did in fact become more open and how this would impact our students. It would also most likely help in creating a classroom environment that is much welcoming and accepting to everyone. I have always been a fan of teaching my students about various cultures and beliefs, and this book simply takes it to the next level and makes the idea realistic and can make the lessons more integrated and engaging also.

    • 249 Kelsey Hickey May 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Kaitlyn, I absolutely agree that we should use this book in our future classrooms. It truly does empower the movement and importance of collaborating with other teachers, especially with teachers around the world. I feel like we do not expose our students to other cultures because we are scared of not being “politically correct,” however forming a bond between students from another country like this could help to eliminate ignorance and increase exposure. I think it would be great to push into the curriculum.

  85. 250 Moriah April 27, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Sarah’s idea of a map would really be beneficial for this story. It would add to the story and hopefully help students connect the cultures and geographical regions together.

  86. 251 Ashlie Webster April 29, 2016 at 2:48 am

    I loved Andrew Clements growing up and I have probably read Frindle and The School Story a million times, but surprisingly I hadn’t heard of Extra Credit until I read it for this class. I’ll be honest, I chose the book simply because it was by Andrew Clements and didn’t care too much for the plot, but once I got to read Abby’s point of view I fell in love with this book. While of course it was easier for me to relate to Abby, I became more and more interested in Sadeed’s story as well. Kids can definitely relate to this because I know pen pals are a really awesome concept for them and they don’t get to interact with people on the other side of the world simply because it’s difficult. This story gives us insight as to why it’s so difficult to get to know somebody on the other side of the world, even if the truth isn’t exactly what we want to hear. This would be great to bring diversity into the classroom because it tackles tough issues that are country continues to deal with and teaches kids about different cultures in a way that is engaging and can inspire discussion and questioning. Kids hear what’s happening in our world more often than we think and books like this one are the key to answering those questions that may be too personal to ask or too difficult to answer.

  87. 252 Justyna Jordan May 2, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    I chose this book because I have always really liked the idea of having pen pals in the classroom. In the class that i am in now my kids have SU students as their pen pals and they get to meet them at the end of the semester. The students really look forward to getting their letters and they really enjoy writing. All they have talked about is when they actually get to meet their pen pals. I think this is a great way to encourage writing as well as build upon literacy skills. With this being said, I loved this book because it not only touches on the concept of pen pals, but the characters are two students that live in different countries that are also different genders. This books tackles many of the issues that surrounds the relationship between America and Afghanistan as well as socio-cultural norms that certain countries have which opens up the dialogue of the importance of learning about other countries and different people.

    • 253 Ashley Jackson May 10, 2016 at 1:31 am

      I agree to the fullest that pen pals is a great idea in the classroom. I believe students should be opened up to other people their age and their culture. It is like you stated extremely important for the students to be opened up to what is going on in the world.

    • 254 Kelsey Hickey May 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Justyna, I chose this book for a very similar reason. I had the opportunity to participate in a pen pal project when I was in elementary school and I truly enjoyed it. I think it encourages literacy skills as well. I agree that it also tackles the issues that surrounds our relationship with Afghanistan and it is important to open up this dialogue, even in an elementary school classroom.

  88. 255 Kelsey Hickey May 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I read Extra Credit by Andrew Clements. The book was written so that readers could understand the differences between the lives of Abby and Sadeed. When I was a third grade student, I was given the opportunity to have a pen pal in England. I thought that it was such a cool experience to be able to write to another student from another country. It was interesting to learn about the difference in our culture, school experience, etc. In this book, Abby and Sadeed are able to learn about each other and their cultures just as I was able to learn about my pen pal’s culture. While my experience was not nearly the same as their experience, I think this book helps to push awareness of other cultures and exposing ourselves to other cultures and differences. I would recommend using this book in your classroom, as well as using this in my future classroom because I think it is extremely important to expose our young students to this type of literature.

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