Volunteer reads to class of 4-year-olds hoping to jump-start reading skills

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - For years, Brenda Wallace has walked into classrooms hoping to open students’ minds to the joy of reading. 

Today, she's sharing a book about character with a class of 4-year-olds at the Cambridge Early Learning Center in Antioch. 

“Our volunteers will go in once a week and just help kids develop those early literacy skills. Just getting them ready for that big literacy push they will get when they get to kindergarten,” said Chelsea Cahill with Book’em.  

Reading skills that can jump-start a lifetime of learning. Brenda's personal journey is a reflection of that philosophy. 

“After my mother had died, I found the books gave me a lot of comfort.” 

At the age of 10, she was inspired by Nancy Drew, a fictional amateur sleuth and super girl. 

“When I was missing my mother, I would read, and it would take me to another dimension. And then, of course, as a little girl I always would think about what I wanted to do when I grew up,” said Brenda. 

Brenda Wallace became a nurse. After 30 years of service, she retired from Vanderbilt hospital. 

“Having good teachers that taught me basic reading skills that stayed with me throughout the years helped me a great deal,” said Brenda.  

As a mother, she instilled her love of reading in her daughter Jamie. Every Sunday after church, she took Jamie and her cousins to the library to get books. 

Today, Brenda enriches the minds of a new generation of children. When Storytime ends, the kids show their appreciation. 

“That's really what happens when you're coming into a school once a week and the kids really get to know you,” said Cahill.  

In turn, Brenda and her Book'em sponsor give books to take home. 

“In 2018, we're on schedule to give out 100,000 books. That's the largest amount we have given out in a year,” said Cahill.  

Brenda sees promise in each child. And that alone keeps her coming back each week. She's a volunteer star in classrooms all over the metro school district. 

"It gives you a wonderful feeling to know that somehow along their journey that you made a difference by simply sitting down with a book and reading to a young mind.” 

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