NAJMIE KHAN and daughter Aara Cleghorn have taken TT by storm with the introduction of their charity, For the Love of Reading TT, which has opened book corners at three locations nationwide.
Newsday spoke with Cleghorn last Tuesday about the charity’s humble beginnings, short-term goals and plans for the future.
Based loosely on the concept of the book exchange in the United States, For the Love of Reading TT seeks to increase the ease of accessibility books by the “take a book, leave a book” concept, by allowing visitors to take a book from the shelf for free. There is no requirement to place a book in exchange or return the book at a later date, no registration necessary, and no cost attached.
Beginning with the opening of their first book corner in April, Cleghorn says over 3,000 books have already been exchanged. The charity is expecting to expand to five locations before the end of the month, with book corners in Valsayn, St Augustine, Warrenville, Couva, and Port of Spain.
She says the goal of For the Love of Reading TT is not to replace bookstores and libraries, but rather to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to read.
“Although there are many ways for people to gain access to books, not everyone is willing to put in the effort to register at the library, or to spend money on buying books at a store. But if you offer someone a book for free, they are more than happy to read.”
While there is no obligation to leave a book on the shelf in return, the charity relies on donations of books from the public.
“We have already received thousands of donated books since the opening of our first book corner at Mode Alive, Valsayn. The response from the public has been really positive.
“We have started exploring other ways of getting the community involved in reading. Last Monday we had an afternoon of reading at Bite Me Bistro in Curepe from 2 to 5 pm, with the theme Exploring the Caribbean.
“Anyone can come along to browse our special collection of local and regional books, read a short story or a poem, or chat about local literature.”
For the Love of Reading TT recently attracted the attention with Miss World TT Ysabel Bisnath, who is now an ambassador for the charity.
Despite the group’s growing popularity, Cleghorn says the charity is committed to staying at the community level.
“It is truly wonderful to see that people are willing to give their own books so that others in their community can read.”