A Helping Hand – A series of letters tell a heartwarming and inspiring tale of friendship and dealing with disabilities. The writer is asked to show the new girl around. To begin with it’s awkward, and the other kids don’t understand, but differences are what make us stronger!
This story is about a young girl with a prosthetic limb and how she fits in at her new school, written in journal style letters from the child who is asked to show her around and shows an endearing insight into how children interact with disabilities in an honest no holds barred way.
Another great Creative Commons book from Pratham and Storyweaver, this book is Level 4 for older children and fluent readers.
See more disability stories in our disabilityies tag – https://freekidsbooks.org/tag/disability/
Text From A Helping Hand:
Dear… well, you know who you are. And it’s not like you’re ever going to see this letter. Miss told me that I had to be your mentor and show you around because you are a new student. I didn’t know what a ‘mentor’ is, so I looked it up in the dictionary. Anyway, she didn’t tell me anything about that. Ali and Gaurav and Sumi and Rani, they kept asking me about it when we were going home from school. I told them that I didn’t know what they were talking about, but that’s not true. How can I not know?
See, you made me lie to my friends.
Ma says that it is not good to stare at people, but I can see that everyone stares at you.
They stare at me too because I have to hang around with you and be your ‘mentor’. Why
did you come to our school? Why couldn’t you continue going to whatever school you
went to earlier?
Do you know what happened yesterday? Gaurav, Ali and two of their friends from Class
VII cornered me after school to ask about you-know-what. They took my bag and
wouldn’t give it back. Then they threw it into the thicket by the side of the road and I had
to scramble down into the mountainside to get it. I tore my shirt and Ma was angry with
This is all your fault.
I keep telling them that they can ask you whatever they want to know. What’s the point
of asking me? How am I supposed to know why you have that thing or how it works?
To be really honest, I can’t say I’m not curious myself or that I don’t have the same
questions the others are asking me. Yes, I noticed it the first day when you came into the
classroom. I saw how you did everything with one hand and how your left hand never
moved. At first I couldn’t tell what the problem was. Then, when I came closer, I saw that
something wasn’t quite right. It looked weird, like it was covered in plastic or something.
Then I thought it was a toy hand. It took me some time to understand.
Also, I saw what happened at lunch.
My oldest sister, the one who’s studying engineering in Delhi, called today. I told her,
“There’s a girl in my class and she has a fake hand,” and she said that the term is
Listen, I have some advice for you. You may be new and all, but if you want people to
stop staring at you and talking about you, you have to stop standing in the corner all the
time. Why don’t you play with us? Why don’t you come on the swing? Everyone loves the
swing. It’s been two weeks, and you can jolly well come by yourself. I am not going to be
your minder for ever.
Sometimes I don’t know what to say to you.
After the lunch incident that day, I’ve been watching you. I’m just curious. Is it weird to
have one hand? Is it only your hand or is your entire arm fake, sorry, prosthetic?
Today, Sumi, Gaurav and I walked to school together. They were playing a game they
made up called One-Hand Challenge. The rule is, you have to do things with one hand.
Like, packing your bag or buttoning your shirt.
Sumi couldn’t tie her shoelaces and she forgot about it and tripped and fell. She got a cut
on her chin. Miss saw it and, even though she put some antiseptic cream on it, she
scolded Sumi for being careless. “You can’t run around in the mountains with your
shoelaces untied. What will happen if you fall while going home or something?”
I think adults worry too much.
Do you know what a coincidence is? It’s like when you talk about something and the
same thing happens sometime later in a completely unrelated way.
In my last letter, I was telling you about Sumi and the shoelaces, and then, today, I saw
you tying your shoelaces. Wow, that was awesome! I think you did it faster than I can do
it with two hands. If you were my friend, I would challenge you to a shoelace-tying race.
Or no, maybe I would ask you to teach me how to do it with one hand.
I have to confess, I did try to tie my shoelace with one hand when I got home. But it’s
impossible. How do you do it? Maybe I’ll ask you tomorrow.
So, after what you said, I’ve tried to do a lot of things with only one hand, but it’s so
difficult! I still don’t get how you do it, like having a bath, wearing your clothes, packing
your bag. Since that day at lunch, I did realize that you have to do some things
differently, but it’s not like you don’t do almost everything the rest of us do.
Listen, I’m sorry about what I said earlier… about playing with us. I guess you were just
feeling shy. And also about coming on the swing. I tried and it’s hard to get your balance
if you don’t hold it with two hands. But you’re great in the jungle gym, even if you don’t
hang from the bars, and you can run really fast, even faster than Ali, who won the first
prize at Sports Day.
That movie was really funny, no? I laughed so much that my stomach hurt and it was like
I was crying. I always like it when they show movies in school. It means no classes.
Last time, before you came to our school, they showed this movie about a tiger cub who
got lost. It was quite scary, mostly because it was a true story. Later someone found it
and managed to get it back to its family. True stories like that are called documentaries,
did you know that? Tiger cubs are cute, no?
Last year, there was a puppy near our house. It was very cute too, but it grew up and
then it wasn’t so cute any more.
Got to go now!
Did you know? I was so surprised when I saw you on the bus. I had no idea my father
worked in the same place as yours! But I’m so happy you came for the office picnic,
because last year when they took us, there were no other children my age and I got
Okay, I’m really tired, so I’m going now. See you in school tomorrow.
I think I should warn you, Principal Sir becomes slightly insane whenever Annual Day
comes along. He might yell at you — he yells at everyone — so don’t take it personally.
My ma says that he’s under a lot of pressure because our Annual Day performance
reflects on him.
I’m not sure what that means, but he does look stressed out. Did you see his hair? It was
like he touched a loose wire and got an electric shock! Though I think it was very mean
of Rani to put a frog in his chair.
Okay, I’m going now before he catches me writing this letter!
Your new hand is so cool! No offence, but the old one was a bit boring. It was just…
there. The new one is like magic, and you can move the fingers and grip with it! I hope
you didn’t mind that I asked to shake hands. I just said it before I could think. Maybe
tomorrow we can do some experiments to find out if you can lift stuff with it.
Oh! I just realized, the last couple of letters I wrote to you, I didn’t mention your
prosthetic hand at all. It’s like I forgot all about it and wanted to tell you so many other
things. The funny thing is, I’m not that curious about your hand any more. I don’t know
THE FRIEND-O-METER QUIZ
How good are you at helping people fit in? Take our Friend-o-Meter quiz to find out!
1. Your teacher asks you to show the new student in school around. What do you feel?
a. Fantastic! A new friend!
b. Why can’t they figure things out themselves?
c. Uh oh…
2. A girl in your class walks with a limp. The others laugh at her. What do you do?
a. Nothing – it’s none of your business.
b. Tell her to ignore them – they’re mean.
c. Ask your classmates to imagine if they were different.
3. Your new classmate is having trouble with his lessons. What can you do?
a. Tell the brainiest student in class to lend him her notes.
b. Tell the teacher – it’s her job to help him.
c. Ask him if you could help him with his work.
4. The new girl in class is rather shy. She doesn’t play with anyone. What can you do?
a. Let her be – she’ll join in when she’s ready.
b. Call her over and make her join in the games.
c. Go and sit next to her – maybe she’ll start a conversation.
Get your score:
a – 1; b – 2 ; c – 3
a – 2; b – 1 ; c – 3
a – 3; b – 2; c – 1
a – 2; b – 1; c – 3
Now add it up. If you’ve scored…
4-6 points:You are a born friend, always ready to lend a hand. You don’t wait for people to
ask for help – you’re already there, waiting to give it to them.7-9 points:You are an
independent person and feel that people should be too. But that doesn’t mean you don’t
care – you just don’t want to force anyone.
10-12 points:You might be a little shy, but you are kind-hearted too. You’ll do whatever you
can indirectly to help others and make them feel at ease
<End of Text From A Helping Hand>
Or read along the video below
About the Author:
Payal Dhar is an Author from India, He is also a freelance writer and editor, writing about computers, technology, books and fiction.
About the Illustrator:
Vartika Sharma is an Illustrator, graphic Designer and photographer based in New Delhi, India.
About Pratham Books
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