The New Girl – Diversity in Indian Culture

This is rated level 3 by Pratham, stories that are suitable for confident readers, or reading to an older child.

Author: Srividhya Venkat, Illustrator: Sayan Mukherjee

Sample Text from The New Girl

There is a new girl at Mira’s bus-stop today. Everyone stares at her. No one talks to her.
On the school bus, everybody sits with their friends. The new girl sits alone.

At school, Salma Miss has a surprise for Mira and her classmates. “We have a new friend in our classroom!” It is the new girl!
Everyone stares at the new girl. “She looks different!” they say. Salma Miss says they must be kind and helpful to Zenie – that’s the name of the new girl.

Mira remembers being the new girl once. Nobody spoke to her. Nobody played with her.
She smiles at Zenie. Zenie smiles back.
During art period, Mira shares her crayons with Zenie. At recess, they share their lunch. They sit together on the bus-ride home and even play in the evening. They are BEST FRIENDS!

Some children make fun of Zenie. They call her names that mean ‘foreigner’.
“She is INDIAN!” Mira tells them angrily. But they simply laugh.
Zenie is upset. “It’s okay to be different!” Mira tells her. Mira has often heard her mother say that to her brother who gets teased about his glasses.

One day, Salma Miss gives them a new project. Everyone is excited. Everyone, except Zenie.
“What should I do, Mira?” she asks. “Don’t worry, Zenie! You can talk about your family, festivals, or your home.” Mira tells her.
“But they will laugh at me, Mira!” she says. “When you speak, just look at the people who are nice to you,” Mira tells her, remembering her mother’s words.
<End of sample text>

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