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2017 Montana Center for the Book Prize

The Montana Center for the Book is pleased to announce the 2017 Montana Center for the Book Prize recipients. The MCB Prize has been awarded to five programs across the state in recognition of their efforts to promote literacy and literature in their communities. Award-winning programs will each receive a $1,000 award and have their events promoted by Humanities Montana.


Plant a Seed...READ! is laying the foundation for the next generation of emotionally healthy and literate children in rural Montana. The Havre-based nonprofit supports children and families by enhancing literacy, language and social/emotional skills from birth to age five. Plant a Seed...READ! serves Blaine, Hill and Phillips counties, including the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy's reservations.

Lorraine Verploegen serves as the organization's volunteer executive director, and only staff member, and is supported by a board of directors, an advisory board and representatives from county libraries. Driven by research that proves that reading to children from birth aids in vital brain development and strengthens the parent-child bond, the nonprofit strives to enable more success in the classroom and beyond through their various programs and events.

One way the nonprofit supports healthy child development and success is as a Local Champion for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for north central Montana. The Imagination Library is an international book gift-giving program for children from birth to age five that relies on Local Champions to enroll local children and pay for the books and overhead.

"Currently we have three counties involved with Plant a Seed...READ! with the main focus on getting 60% of children, from birth to age five, enrolled in the Imagination Library by 2020," writes Lorraine. "Two other counties have expressed interest in bringing the program into their counties." There are currently 600 children enrolled in the program with over 100 graduating throughout the year.

"Our second goal is to continue building Literacy Kits for childcare providers for checkout by using books to build readiness skills in literacy/language, pre-math/reasoning, and social/emotional skills," explains Lorraine. "As a partner with the Children’s Reading Foundation, we are working to implement the READY! For Kindergarten program for families with children from birth to 5. This program emphasizes 'play to learn' with age-appropriate skills, activities and materials for families." The workshops would incorporate the Imagination Library books and provide parents with a deeper understanding of their child's growth and development stages.

Plant a Seed...READ! received the 2017 Center for the Book Prize for their commitment to promoting literacy and literature in their communities. "Being a fairly new nonprofit, this impacted our credibility, mission and vision as to what our purpose was for children, families and communities," writes Lorraine. "We were inspired to take that step as a way to show the worth of our mission to community members so they in turn could make an impact by investing in their children in a positive and proactive way."

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From a large volume of impressive nominations, the Center for the Book Advisory Committee selected the following recipients for the 2017 Montana Center for the Book Prize:

Wild Rose, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation

Wild Rose installed mini-libraries in Birney, Ashland, Muddy, and Lame Deer and uses these libraries to distribute books for their R-Rez-Reads program, which addresses current affairs and opens lines of communication and discussion. READ MORE

Classics Behind Razor Wire, Deer Lodge

This program offers Shakespeare, classic literature, and creative writing classes in the Deer Lodge prison in the belief that offering a space for literary discussion and analysis and access to literature will encourage personal growth. READ MORE

Plant a Seed...READ!, Havre

Plant a Seed…READ! is a proactive nonprofit that supports children and families by enhancing literacy, language and social/emotional skills from birth to age 5 and is a driving force behind much of the early literacy programming in the Havre area.

Writer’s Voice, Billings

WV was founded in 1991 and has provided hundreds of programs to assist emerging writers in their artistic and professional development, to support accomplished writers, and to challenge the traditional definition of the literary arts while enriching all sectors of the community.

32nd Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Western Music Rendezvous, Lewiston

The second oldest cowboy poetry gathering in the country captures and honors the unique history of the Montana Territory through cowboy poetry verse and the lyrics of western songs. READ MORE

Prizes will be awarded in person at events around the state. Congratulations to all the prize recipients!

The MCB prize recognizes programs that offer creative and wide-reaching literary programing, such as family reading groups that promote youth literacy, reading series that encourage active engagement with the literary arts, or high school workshops that support student participation in slam poetry events.