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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.

April Chalfant-Martin

SPOTLIGHT ON: Wild Rose Center

When April Chalfant-Martin became the director of the Wild Rose Center, she hung a sign on the door that read, “Enter as guests and leave as friends.” Nestled in the Wolftooth Mountains on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and bordering the Crow Indian Reservation, the community and women’s retreat center strives to develop awareness and connectedness across cultures.

April had the idea to install mini-libraries, or "Little Free Libraries," in the five districts on the reservation as a way distribute books for their R-Rez Reads program but didn’t fully anticipate the impact they would have. "The farthest community we reach out to is Birney, 50 miles from the Center, which has no services,” she writes. “No store, no gas, no pay phone (if such things still existed) but they do have a Little Free Library. I see the kids circling on their bikes in the summer, waiting for me to fill it, and I make a special effort to put in daring adventure books. Or books that are crafty and DIY- these are kids who still use their imaginations and I want to foster that excitement of learning something new or laying along the river in the shade when your mind is far away fighting tigers in a jungle."

Inspired by the NEA National Big Read program, R-Rez Reads fulfills the educational component of the Center’s mission, allowing community members to gather "and discuss books, share knowledge and creatively collaborate." The Little Free Libraries utilize a “take a book, return a book” philosophy that has proven very effective. "We are making our community a unique place with this program," she adds. "We are always on the lookout for books for all ages and love to take discards and duplicates from area libraries."

The Wild Rose Center was selected for a 2017 Center for the Book Prize for providing engaging learning opportunities on the Northern Cheyenne Indian reservation that has reached people from multiple generations and cultural backgrounds. "The Center for the Book [Prize] helped to validate the work being put into the Little Free Libraries through the eyes of those not familiar with life in rural, Southeastern Montana,” April writes. “The use of books, reading and knowledge is just a small component of what the Center is capable of. We hope that we can create small changes that help to have big impacts within the community and those surrounding it."

Learn more about the Wild Rose Center and how to donate books to the Little Free Libraries on their website.

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.

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.