What began as an idea to get young children and families in Prosper to combine outdoor exercise with reading has been recognized by the Texas Municipal League (TML) with an Award of Excellence.
The Prosper Book Trail, an innovative blend of walking and reading, utilizes 23 permanent posts set along a paved walkway in a parklike area directly adjacent to Rucker Elementary School in the Prosper ISD.
The trail was highlighted at the TML’s 2017 annual conference in Houston on Oct. 4. The trail won the Award of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the group, in the public works category for cities and towns under 25,000 in population.
Each of the Book Trail’s posts supports a small slanted platform, placed at eye level for a child, where the pages of a book are displayed. The initial pages of the book are located at the trail head, and the book’s interior pages are spread out in order along the remainder of the trail, allowing readers to complete the book and the trail simultaneously. Books are changed out every few weeks.
“It was really a team effort among several Town departments to complete the Book Trail,” says Library Director Leslie Scott. “The library provided the idea and the literature, but we needed help from Public Works to erect the posts, Parks and Recreation to help with the promotion and the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service to provide some funding. It could not have happened without everyone’s cooperation.”
The trail’s inauguration included a visit by the Seattle-based author of the featured book, and the celebration included children’s activities and, of course, a reading of the featured book by the author.
“The trail is virtually always busy, and we are thrilled to see so many people embrace it,” said Scott. “As we move forward, we may entertain the possibility of other book trails in other parks and open spaces. Our mission is to encourage a love of reading, and when we can add healthy habits to that, everyone wins.”
TML is a voluntary association of 1,155 Texas cities, providing support and services to city governments. The Town of Prosper is a member of TML.