Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Extra Credit

I spent last week in Florida exploring the Gulf Coast. I am happy to report the oil has not reached the beaches of Venice, St. Pete's Beach or Caladesi Island. It was beautiful, hot and very relaxing. I hope you are still reading the summer away! Here is a peak at the book Extra Credit by Andrew Clements:

Can you name the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council? Abby Carson can, but yet her grades have fallen so low that she is in danger of repeating the sixth grade. She hates dong homework, doesn’t like to study, and really can’t see the purpose of multiplication. All she wants to do is spend time outside, ride her bike, and explore the woods on her parent’s property. The one and only thing she does like about school is the new rock-climbing wall they have installed in the gym. Rock climbing has become one of her new favorite past times.

In the book Extra Credit by Andrew Clements Abby’s teachers give her a final chance to pass sixth grade. In order to do so, she must sign an agreement that she will complete all homework assignments and will pass all tests with no less than a “B” until the end of the school year. She must also complete one extra credit assignment that involves a pen pal letter with a student halfway around the world.

Through her correspondence, this story introduces the reader to a child’s life in Afghanistan. It presents another culture in a unique and understanding way for this age group. Through the simple letter exchange the reader will begin to realize how different life can be depending on where you live. The book presents two points of view (from each of the letter writers), and shows how some foreigners may look unfavorably upon Americans. It also shows the dangers children face walking to and from school in a land where education is not guaranteed and permission is required before a letter can even be written.

As a fan of Andrew Clements I enjoyed reading his story and found myself admiring the way Abby and Sadeed Bayat could communicate by “reading through the lines” and understand each other’s messages. This book would be appropriate for grades four through six.

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