10 Rising Hearts: Student creates book sharing program

Her Friend to Friend Happy Books program is in Anderson, Campbell and Union Counties. She also made a special delivery of about 200 books to Sevier County after the fire in November.

10 Rising Hearts highlights students who are going above and beyond to do the right thing when no one is watching. If you know a student who is making a difference in their community, please let us know about their story at 10Hearts@wbir.com.

A sixth grade student has transformed her love of reading into a community book sharing experience.

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Kristina Gregg likes all kids of books, especially mysteries and fiction.

"I love that it just takes me on a different journey and it feels like I am actually there. And if I am sad it just makes me feel happy," the 11-year-old explained.

Her love of books developed long before she was a student at Norris Middle School. Her second grade teacher inspired her with "read alouds."

"She would gather us all on the carpet and she would just sit in her chair and read and she always had that expression and it made us all feel really happy," Kristina said.

"She and I think along the same lines. She just loves books," the teacher, Mickie Widner said.

She is retired now but Widner remembers Kristina and hearing about a book outreach her former student started isn't surprising.

"It's no surprise to me that with her kind heart and her love of reading that she saw an opportunity to pass on that enthusiasm for her books to other kids," Widner said.

Kristina started by brainstorming with her mom. How could she spread the joy she gets from books?

"We know that children go in and out of Children's Centers so we know that's a good place to put the books for them to get them," she said.

Kristina Gregg started a book sharing program for other kids. 

She sent emails to area school principals who then put out the word for book donations.

Kristina outlined how it works. "If they have a child they send them with the books, drop them off at their office at the schools, then I go pick them up," she said. "Or they can donate them just to the Children's Centers and Friend to Friend Happy Books. And then I will go stamp them with the stamp that I have."

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She stamps each one of her books inside the front cover.

"The stamps say 'Friend to Friend Happy Books' and whenever the children open the books, they will know that a friend was thinking of them. So they will know that a friend sent them to them not just some person but a friend," she said.

Kristina Gregg adds a 'Friend to Friend Happy Books' stamp to books for the book sharing program she started. 

The books have a special place in the Childhelp Children's Center of East Tennessee buildings.

"There's a little shelf in the corner of the Children's Centers and they get to take the books and then take them home or read them while they are there. They have the choice," Kristina said.

So far she has distributed more than 700 books. And though she has not met the kids who read them, she feels like they are friends. Friends who like to read.

"I hope it takes them on a different journey like it took me on a different journey whenever I started reading," she said.

Right now Friend to Friend Happy Books is in Anderson, Campbell and Union Counties. She also made a special delivery of about 200 books to Sevier County after the devastating fires in November.

Kristina Gregg hopes her program will spread across the state and across the country.

"It's just really good to know that you are helping out," she said. 

All donated books are welcome but she especially needs chapter books appropriate for middle school students.