Literary Expeditions

June 1, 2015, Department, by Catrina Belt

Raleigh, North Carolina’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department’s Adult Read and Go program combines reading with exploration and travel.Park and recreation agencies across the country are working hard to change the face of senior programming, creating new activities and breathing life into the old. The hopeful result is senior programming that is fun and exciting, like the Adult Read and Go Program offered by the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department.

Launched in 2009, Read and Go combines reading and travel to create a unique book club experience for older Raleigh residents. Each month, participants alternate between reading books and traveling to the places that they just read about. The books — all either set in North Carolina or written by someone from the state — are selected from a list compiled by a local, independently owned book store, Quail Ridge Books. “We reached out to [the bookstore] and ran the idea by them as a way to work together,” says Carmen Rayfield, Adult Program Manager for Raleigh Parks and Recreation. “Our staff would read over the list and the short descriptions of the books and come up with a list that would reach all types of readers.” 

The program offers at least eight trips a year, totaling more than 24 trips to date. Destinations have varied over the years, from a CSI lab in Raleigh to a country farm in Johnston County and Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks. One of the first excursions in 2009 was based on the books Genesis Beach and Hell Swamp, both by Susan Whitfield. “Susan was wonderful to work with. She set up the trip to Ivanhoe, North Carolina to meet [her] and have a catered lunch at the house featured in the book,” says Rayfield. 

Read and Go has seen considerable participation with more than 400 adults signed up for the mailing list. “Everyone loves it. It puts a twist on our trips and [participants] love meeting the authors or going to see the places that they have read about,” Rayfield says. “Now when someone reads a book they will bring it to us and ask us to add it to our list or recommend an author.” 

Catrina Belt is an Editorial Intern for Parks & Recreation magazine.