For anyone who hasn’t been on a book trail, a treat awaits at the park behind Judy Rucker Elementary School, 402 South Craig Street — Eagles Landing Park. It’s a collaboration between the Prosper Community Library, Prosper Public Works, Prosper Parks and Recreation and Texas A&M AgriLife to bring literature outdoors to those utilizing the park, ball fields and walking trail.
“The mission of the collaboration is to promote literacy, fitness and family engagement together in a nature setting,” Library Director Leslie Scott said. Twenty-three permanent four-foot podium posts with large colorful platforms are equally placed along a 0.7-mile walking trail that surrounds recreation fields. The platforms allow for children’s picture book pages to be encased in plexi-glass so stories may be read aloud as families or children walk the trail. Each two-page spread is laminated to preserve the illustration colors and the integrity of the book.”
Scott said she changes out the books every three weeks to encourage returning to the trail and to offer diverse literature.
Scott said she saw similar book posts being offered in other communities, but wanted something more permanent. She met with Public Works Director, Frank Jaromin, to determine the feasibility of the project and the two determined the goal was not only attainable, but there was room for improvement. The project met a goal of taking the library’s literature collection outside of the brick and mortar typical way of exposure to literature. The books provide enjoyment for the entire family; however, they primarily target early literacy and include themes of animals, nature, and healthy living. Literacy begins in the first three years of life, and this non-traditional way of reading also creates a positive connection with literature.
The entire community, including students and families who visit the park on game days, benefit through the creative offering of literature while enjoying nature.
“Children of our community benefit by their families exposing them to literature in a creative way outdoors in nature,” Scott said. “Daycare facilities who treat their classes to the trail as a field trip to entertain and educate benefit as well. Many in the community were not aware an innovative opportunity like this could be offered, and the feedback received is all positive, grateful, and of wonder.”
The library director’s vision was brought to reality by the design, construction and installation of the trail posts by the Public Works department as the collaboration between the town departments involved and Texas A&M AgriLife is inclusive. “Tristan Cisco, Water Conservation Education Coordinator, ordered materials, assisted in creating the prototype engineering, as well as helped to create the posts,” Scott said. “Paul Naughton, Parks and Recreation landscape architect, created a graph of the placement of the posts where they would be equally spaced and the designated number of posts to keep children’s attention. Texas A&M AgriLife assisted the Town of Prosper by providing a monetary donation. The project is easily adaptable for other cities.”