Extra Credit is about Abby, a girl in danger of failing the sixth grade. To be able to move on to junior high, she must go from failing to being on the honor roll, and she has to complete an extra credit project. Her project is to find a pen pal from another part of the world, create a bulletin board with all of their correspondence, and give an oral report on what she learned. Her pen pal is a girl named Amira. She’s from a village in Afghanistan. But Abby doesn’t realize that Amira isn’t the one actually writing the letters. They’re actually being written by Amira’s brother, Sadeed.
Sadeed is the best writer and reader of English in his school, so, when his teacher asks him to help Amira write letters to a girl in America, he reluctantly agrees. Soon, however, he looks forward to these letters, and even begins writing as himself in secret. He is fascinated by how life in America is both similar and different to life in Afghanistan. The people around him, though, do not share his fascination. When word spreads that he and his sister have an American friend, Sadeed is forced to face how different his world is from Abby’s. But are their worlds really so different? It seems that Abby is also dealing with some objections to her pen pal project.
Can two young people from such different worlds truly be friends? Can their similarities overcome their differences? And can Abby pass the sixth grade while learning a little something along the way? Read Extra Credit by Andrew Clements to find out!
I think that this book is an excellent way to highlight the similarities and differences between two cultural groups. Even though we come from different parts of the world, speak different languages, and have different traditions, we all, I hope, want to make our small parts of the world a better place. I think that comes with understanding and accepting those around us, and realizing that our differences don’t have to come between us. They can, in fact, make us stronger and more well-rounded and give us a sense of empathy for our fellow man.