Extra Credit

Extra Credit

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It isn’t that Abby Carson can’t do her schoolwork. She just doesn’t like doing it. And consequently, Abby will have to repeat sixth grade—unless she meets some specific conditions, including taking on an extra credit project: find a pen pal in a distant country. But when Abby’s first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, complications arise. The elders agree that any letters going back to America must be written well, but the only qualified English-speaking student is a boy. And in this village, it’s not proper for a boy to correspond with a girl. So, Sadeed’s sister will dictate and sign the letters for him. But what about the villagers who believe that girls should not be anywhere near a school? And what about those who believe that any contact with Americans is...unhealthy?

As letters flow back and forth—between the prairies of Illinois and the mountains of central Asia, across cultural and religious divides, through the minefields of different lifestyles and traditions—a small group of children begin to speak and listen to each other. And in just a few short weeks, they make important discoveries about their communities, about their world, and most of all, about themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743582049
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Edition description: Unabridged, 3 CDs
Pages: 3
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards, including two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He is also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. He lives with his wife in Maine and has four grown children. Visit him at AndrewClements.com.

Gabra Zackman knows romance. Her clever and “thrilling romantic caper” (Library Journal) Bod Squad series was inspired by the more than one hundred romance and women’s fiction titles she has narrated for audio. She divides her time between her native New York City and Denver, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

Extra Credit



Sadeed knew he wasn’t supposed to be listening to the men talking in the next room. He also knew he wasn’t supposed to be peeking through the crack near the bottom of the old wooden door. But they had to be talking about him in there—why else would his teacher have invited him to the home of the headman of the village?

His teacher, Mahmood Jafari, had not told him much. “Please come to Akbar Khan’s house this afternoon at four. He and his councillors meet today, and I have to speak with them. And I may need you to be there.”

Sadeed thought perhaps his teacher was going to recommend him for a special honor. That wasn’t hard to imagine, not at all. Perhaps the village elders would award him a scholarship to one of the finest new schools in Kabul. He would wear blue trousers and a clean white shirt to classes every day, and he would have his own computer, and he would take his place as one of the future leaders of Afghanistan. His father and mother would be very proud of him. It would be a great opportunity. And Sadeed was certain he richly deserved it.

Through the crack in the door, Sadeed could see all seven men, sitting on cushions around a low table, sipping tea. An electric bulb hung overhead, and two wires ran across the ceiling to the gasoline generator outside. Mahmood was talking to Akbar Khan, but the teacher’s back was toward the door, and Sadeed couldn’t hear what he was saying.

When the teacher finished, someone Sadeed knew—Hassan Jaji—began to speak. Hassan stopped by his father’s shop in the village bazaar at least once a week, and he sometimes stayed awhile, telling stories about his time as a freedom fighter during the war with the Soviet Union. One day he had shown Sadeed where a Russian grenade had blown two fingers off his right hand.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to Extra Credit
by Andrew Clements

About the Book

It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork; it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back—for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal . . . Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know . . .

Discussion Topics

• Author Andrew Clements chose the state of Illinois in the United States and Afghanistan as the settings in Extra Credit. Why do you think Clements selected these locations? What kinds of differences between the two countries—cultural and otherwise—can you identify after reading the book?

• On the first page of Extra Credit, Afghani student Sadeed thinks that his teacher is going to “recommend him for a special honor,” but when he finds out that his teacher wants him to help write letters to a girl in America, he is very disappointed. Nevertheless, how does this letter writing eventually turn into a “special honor” for Sadeed?

• The character of Abby is introduced in the story when she is climbing a rock wall in her school’s gym. Are you surprised to find out that Abby is struggling in school after reading about her abilities on the rock wall? Despite her grades, do you believe that Abby is actually very smart? Why or why not?

• As a class, have a discussion about Abby and Sadeed. Do Abby and Sadeed have similar personalities? Also, compare and contrast their everyday lives by talking about the following: their homes, their schools, their teachers and their parents. How are they alike and how are they different?

• As pen pals, Abby, Sadeed, and Sadeed’s sister Amira communicate the old fashioned way—by sending letters to each other in the mail. Why is this their only method of staying in touch? What are some conveniences Abby and her friends have in the U.S. that Sadeed and Amira do not have in Afghanistan?

• The rock wall at Abby’s school in Illinois and the mountains of Afghanistan are symbols in Extra Credit—they stand for something else. What do they represent?

• Abby learns from Amira and Sadeed’s letters that not all of the girls in their Afghanistan village are allowed to go to school. Amira is glad that her father “permits” her to go to school. How did this make you feel when you read this?

• The connection between brothers and sisters is explored in Extra Credit. How is Sadeed’s relationship with Amira different from Abby’s relationship with her brother Tom?

• In the novel, Sadeed writes to Abby that he only has one book in his home, and that his teacher has taken a chance by allowing him to read books that are not approved by the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan. What did you think about this?

• Discuss how a writer uses “foreshadowing” in a book. How does Clements use foreshadowing throughout Extra Credit? Identify parts of the story where foreshadowing is present.

• While reading this book, we learn that Abby and Sadeed are taking risks by communicating with one another. Why do you think Sadeed decides to correspond with Abby when he knows that it is forbidden? Do you think Abby realizes that her letters to Sadeed would create controversy at home and in Afghanistan?

• When Abby gives her oral report on her project at the end of the book, her classmates look bored and uninterested. Imagine you are a student in Abby’s class. Would you feel the same way about her report? Why or why not?

• Abby is reluctant to do her extra credit assignment at first. But how was the project actually a good thing for her in the end?

• By the end of the story, Abby and Sadeed have a greater understanding of each other’s lives and cultures. After finishing the book, talk about what else you think Abby and Sadeed learned from exchanging letters.

Activities and Research

• How much did your students know about the country of Afghanistan before reading Extra Credit? Find out more about this country. Research the history of Afghanistan, and talk about present-day life in this country. What problems does the country face today?

• Start your own “Project Pen Pal” in your classroom! Encourage your students to find and communicate with their own pen pals. Conduct research on the Internet to find organizations that supply pen pal names and information. Then, after a few months of correspondence, create a bulletin board similar to Abby’s. Display pen pal letters and other information from your class’s new friends.

• Talk about the significance of the small rock Sadeed sends to Abby from Afghanistan, and the dirt Abby sends from Illinois to Afghanistan. If your students had a pen pal in another country, what would they send to them to represent your hometown? Have everyone bring this item into school. It will be interesting to see if everyone brings in the same thing—or not!

• Extra Credit is a book that celebrates the power of friendship. Have your students make a list of other books they have enjoyed that celebrate friendship, and share these lists with the class.

• What would it be like to be a character in Extra Credit? Ask your students to imagine if they had the power to jump into this book. Would they be a friend of Abby, Sadeed, or someone else? Why?

• Read Arnold Lobel’s story Frog and Toad Are Friends with your students. After reading the story, ask you students why they think Clements chose this book to highlight in Extra Credit. Who in your class can identify more with Frog? And who is more like Toad?

• Continue the story in Extra Credit after the book ends. Have your students write about what they think happens to Abby and Sadeed. Do Abby and Sadeed get back in touch again? Do they ever meet? What does the future hold for Abby and Sadeed? Compare and contrast everyone’s thoughts.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

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Extra Credit 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extra Credit Abby Carson has been having a little trouble with her grades from fourth grade to sixth grade (she's presently in sixth grade.) In February of sixth grade, Abby found out she probably will have to repeat sixth grade. But, she finds out that if she does all her homework in all her subjects (and an extra credit project in L. A.), she has a chance to go to seventh grade. Then, she finds out the project is to write to someone from where she lives (Illinois) to a small village by the city of Kabul in Afghanistan. The person she is writing to is Amira Bayat. But secretly, Amira's brother Sadeed is the real one writing the letters because he doesn't think what Amira is saying in her letters is important and because what Amira says isn't answering the questions that Abby is asking in her letters. Extra Credit is a book that is written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Mark Elliott. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division published the book. The book was copyrighted in 2009. Extra Credit costs $16.99 in the United States. The theme of the book is it takes a lot of effort to set things right (as Abby did throughout the book with her grades.) Overall, it was a book with turns and twists.
gnjhns More than 1 year ago
This story allows 2 children to have a small window into each of their worlds. I loved the way he was able to help each child see their differences and appreicate all that they have and could have. I would recommend this to any family who are trying to help their children understand the struggle the Afgan children must face in order to do something as simple as write a letter. Many of us take this privledge for granted and if we did not have the communication highway where would we be? Clements has done an excellent job in showing children friendships can cross all borders and it is important to care for others and not just yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Andrew Clements' novels are always a success in my opinion. Written for a middle grade audience, they are entertaining, inspirational, and educational, and EXTRA CREDIT is no exception. Just look closely at the cover and you will probably guess EXTRA CREDIT is a pen pal story, but it is not just any pen pal situation. Abby finds herself reluctantly writing a pen pal letter for extra credit. She is in danger of being held back in sixth grade again next year. Desperate to go on to junior high with her friends, she has promised to do all her homework and earn B's on all future tests this year so that she can leave the sixth grade behind. That is not quite enough for her language arts teacher. An extra credit project will also be required. That's where the letter writing comes in. Halfway around the globe from Illinois is Sadeed living in Afghanistan. His teacher has just asked him to assist his sister in writing a pen pal letter to a girl from America. That girl is Abby. What follows is the development of an unusual friendship and a learning experience like no other. Both young people are introduced to a culture completely different from their own, and the reactions that arise leave them both confused about the intolerant beliefs that surround them. The possibilities for EXTRA CREDIT are endless. It could be used as a discussion starter in classrooms involving current events, different cultures, letter writing, and so much more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was exciting and fun to read!!!!! I recomd this book and other Adrew Clement books
lovereading1 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It gives people a chance to learn what it is like in different cultures, and, in some cases, how lucky we are.
Anonymous 11 months ago
To bad i could only get a sample.what does the wishlist do i added it to my wishlist.
sarahbatte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A story about Abby in the sixth grade who doesnt seem to care much about her course work, she just doesnt want to do the work. She loves gym and the climbing wall. She learns that becuase of her lack of school work completed she may have to repeat sixth grade. She is told by her teacher that unless she wants to repeat, she must do some projects. One of these is a writting assingnment that she has to pick a child in another country and write to him or her. The assignment sparks her interest and she learns alot about the boy from Afgahnistan. She learns that girls in that country are not encouraged to go to school. That he is a boy and boys and girls should not be writting to each other in his country.They become good friends and learn alot about each others lives and how different they are but how much in common they have.
LisaBohman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about and American girl named Abby and an Afghan boy named Sadeed. Abby is about ready to fail sixth grade so to avoid repeating it the following year she takes on an extra credit assignment that entails writing to a pen pal in Afghanistan. Due to conservative traditions in Afghanistan a girl is selected to write to Abby, but her brother Sadeed, who is also the best student in the village, oversees the letter writing to uphold the village's honor. Abby begins to take the pen pal writing seriously when she sees how much work Amira (really Sadeed) puts into her letters. A secret friendship evolves between Abby and Sadeed after Sadeed reveals to her that he is actually writing the letters. After a hostile in Afghanistan discovers that the village is friendly with Americans, the people in the village grow afraid that they will be attacked and the letter writing comes to an end. This story sends the message that we should not take the freedom that we have as US citizens for granted. We have many privileges and opportunities that people of other countries do not have. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others. This would be an excellent book to read when studying the Middle East and warfare. It would also be a good book to read as a class if the class is going to have pen pals. Reading this book brought back memories of my first pen pal in third grade. She went to another school in the town I grew up in, but I remember how excited I would get when her letters came in the mail.
sacamp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abby is failing 6th grade! The only way Abby can pas is if she does all her work and a extra credit project. The project is to send messages to a person living in Afghanistan, but a problem occures and they cant send any more letters
amygatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was interested to read this book, because it is my impression that there are not enough books that seek to educate young readers about the current contention between the US and Afghanistan. At first I was very disappointed with the pace of this book - it felt extremely slow. Even when I was almost halfway through I felt that the plot dragged and the voice was very slow. However, once Sadeed wrote his own letter to Abby, things started picking up and I got much more interested. I loved the symbolism of the mountain rock and the little pile of dirt taking on new meaning after traveling across the world. The imagery was very powerful. I thought the author portrayed the racism and hatred that can exist in both cultures very well and painted both episodes in a way that was simple and easy for young readers to understand while still showing them how detrimental it is. I think this book would be a great resource for teaching students not only about the relationship between the US and Afghanistan, but for teaching acceptance and respect for other cultures. The best thing about this book is that it shows intolerance on both sides of the world and how sad this intolerance makes both Abby and Sadeed. Seeing intolerance through these two different lenses makes this book much more meaningful and valuable as a teaching tool.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Possibly my favorite of the Bluestems. Of course, life is different for kids in America and Afghanistan, but such an interesting way to show what's important.
justine.marxer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
age app: intermediategenre: realistic fictionreview: this is a great example of realistic fiction because it takes probable circumstances of a girl and a boy pen pal, and the risks and dangers of their communication. It shows the positives and negatives of the two cultures, and puts the people of Afghanistan in a positive light.
kb143317 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abby Carson finds out that if she doesn¿t pull up her grades she will have to repeat sixth grade. Her social studies teacher allows her to do an extra credit assignment to help pull up her grade. Her extra credit assignment is to become a pen pal to another student in a different country. Abby Carson from Illinois becomes friends with sister and brother, Amira and Sadeed Bayat, from Afghanistan.The pen pal aspect of this story I think is what drew me to it because in my fourth grade year we had a girl in my class whose father wrote postcards to us from the road of his truck driving. I also thought it would be interesting to see how the author would make Amira and Sadeed portray their ideas to an American pen pal considering the Iraq Freedom War.Extension Ideas1. As a class pen pal to another school in a different country.2. Do a unit on the different types of landforms.
MrsBond on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only thing about school that interests Abby is the rock climbing wall. In the flat landscape of Illinois there aren't many places to climb. When she realizes that her poor grades will keep her in 6th grade for another year, she decides to make a change. As part of the agreement with her teachers Abby must participate in an extra credit project. She chooses a pen-pal project from the bag of ideas, when given the choice of location she selects the most mountainous. Story follows Abby and Sadeed's correspondence. Touches on the major geographic and cultural differences between the US and Afghanistan. Also shows how very much alike we are.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abby Carson is flunking sixth grade. She loves P.E. because they do rock climbing, so that¿s all she focuses on. When her guidance counselor sends a letter home saying she will be retained she decides to do whatever it takes to pass. She must meet ¿B¿s¿ the rest of the year in all subjects and do a special project for Language Arts. Her project involves writing to a pen pal in Afghanistan. Sadeed is the best student in his village. When the letter arrives from America it is decided he will secretly help his sister write letters to Abby as it would be inappropriate for a young boy to write a young girl. Little do they know that these letters will cause controversy on both sides of the ocean. This was a great book. It gave a glimpse into the culture of those in Afghanistan. Highly recommend this to my students.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sixth grader Abby Carson enters into an extra credit project that involves sending letters to a child in another country, in order to avoid failing her school year and being kept back. She chooses to write to someone in Afghanistan, mostly because it is the only country from the choices she is given that has mountains, and she is really interested in rock climbing. When Abby's first letter arrives, a boy is chosen to oversee the writing of the letter, but it is Sadeed's sister who actually gets the credit because it would not be appropriate for a boy to be writing to a girl. Of course, Abby knows none of this because she grew up in North America, but she does experience some problems of her own, which she solves in a tactful manner. I highly recommend this book to sixth grade students, especially those who love Clements other books.
Coolguy36 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought it was an outstanding book.
adaniel11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Genre: Realistic FictionReview: The author did a good job of creating a book that stays true to the genre of realistic fiction. This is a vary believable story that centers around a young girl who is about to flunk the 6th grade and her only means of passing is to do an extra credit project that involves writing to a penpal overseas. Media: Pencil
KHusser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another well written ¿school story¿ which bridges the gap between Eastern and Western cultures: Abby is a lazy 6th grader, who loves rock climbing and being outdoors, anything but doing her homework. Sadeed is also 12 years old, but is the brightest student and most proficient English-speaker in his village. The two are brought together for Abby¿s extra credit project so she can be promoted to 7th grade, but cultural morays and prejudices get in the way of their budding friendship.
ECHSLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abby isn't passing her classes. She doesn't want to fail middle school so she is given an extra credit assignment. She must write to a pen pal in Afghanistan. Things get interesting when her pen pal turns out to be a boy, posing as his sister because her writing isn't up to his standards. It's a great story that shows both cultures in a realistic light. A fun read that will make you think, too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OPINION: Not as much adventure as I like, if you like liturature and realistic fiction, this is the book for you. ( I myself like action /adventure and fantasy, so this rating is kind of biased. ) Fans of Andrew Clemets' hilarious books, you are probably going to think that this book is less funny than his others. SUMMARY: Sadeed is trusted with the job of teaching his sister English to send to an American girl. But they make a system where she talks and he writes it down ( and secretly edits it to sound better. ) They send letters vack in forth and Sadeed begind to get fon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Afghan meet America! To get extra credit so she can pass the grad this girl gets a pen pal. A cliff hanging ending but Its still GOod! &#321 &#123 &#4321