Montana Center for the Book Prize

Awards for Excellent Literary Programs

The annual Montana Center for the Book Prize is awarded to up to five programs in recognition of excellent work promoting literacy and literature in Montana. Award-winning programs receive $1,000 and public recognition.

Nominations open May 1 to July 31

The Montana Center for the Book Prize recognizes programs that support literacy, celebrate literature, and give people increased access to books and writers. The prize is awarded to up to five Montana-based organizations that offer creative and wide-reaching literary programming. Given for work already completed, the MCB Prize is not a grant for future use—the cash award may be used for any purpose and no reporting is required. Organizations may nominate themselves.

In awarding the MCB Prize, the Montana Center for the Book prioritizes geographic diversity with a special emphasis on organizations that reach rural and other underserved populations.

  • Tell us about the program and its history. What does the program do? Why was it created? Where does the program take place? When does it occur? Who makes the program happen? Who does it serve? How many people are affected?
  • Tell us about the organization. Include a brief version of the mission statement. What is the organization’s status—government agency, non-profit, commercial business? What is the organization’s structure—number of staff, volunteers, board?

Montana Center for the Book Prize Recognizes:

Early Childhood Literacy
Writing in Schools
Literary Programs
Library Programs

2020 Winners

  • Alpine Artisans, Seeley Lake
    Since 2007, Alpine Artisans has sponsored a series of author readings each year called The Open Book Club, serving the rural Seeley, Swan and Blackfoot Valleys of western Montana. Over a hundred authors, including Bill Kittredge, Victor Charlo, Jamie Ford, Annick Smith, Peter Stark, Henry Real Bird, and Dee McNamer have met with readers at the local trading post for literary readings and conversations. Each event begins with a local student reading their published poetry. Many authors go into the schools as well, including a full day residency with Henry Real Bird in Seeley Lake Elementary and Seeley Swan High School. In turn, Alpine Artisans partners with the local newspaper’s Junior Journal column and the Missoula Writing Collaborative. Exposure to professional writers is a highlight for these students and a beloved experience for all the audience members who attend.
  • Montana State University Billings Creative Writing Center, Billings
    The Young Poets Program offers elementary school students the opportunity to learn about poetry from professional poets in residence and to write and perform their own poetry with guidance and feedback. Founded in 2012 by MSU Billings professor and poet Tami Haaland, and now sponsored by the Creative Writing Center at MSUB, Young Poets is based on a national model, uses national and regional poetry resources and local writing talent, and incorporates music for at least one lesson, which allows students to engage in collaborating with a local, professional musician, as well. Most recently poets Anna Paige, Dave Caserio, and Josh Michael worked with kids in 11 different classrooms in Orchard Elementary and Bench Elementary Schools in Billings over a 10-week period. Despite the challenges of the current year, the program organizers are planning for spring 2021 and hope to expand to reach more young poets in additional schools.
  • Belgrade Community Library, Belgrade
    Started in 2020, One Book Belgrade is the annual community read put on by the Belgrade Community Library. Each year, a book by a local author is selected and programs for all ages are planned around the book’s themes. By collaborating with other organizations to offer books and events, the program provides adults with creative outlets and opportunities to learn together. This year’s selection, Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan is a fictionalized true story of a forgotten hero in WWII Italy. Through art classes, an escape room, a panel event, and author talk, readers focused on themes of family, honor, bravery, and love. One Book Belgrade fosters connections by bringing people together to read, kicks off the annual adult winter reading program, and is something the community can look forward to year after year.

2020 Advisory Committee

  • Caroline Bitz
    Humanities Montana board member, Belgrade

  • Carol Bradley
    Humanities Montana board member, Great Falls
  • Debbie Garland
    Humanities Montana board member, Missoula

  • Danell Jones
    Author, Billings

  • Rebecca Kohl
    Archivist, Helena

  • Thomas Nurmi
    Assistant professor, Montana State University Billings

  • Andrea Peacock
    Owner, Elk River Books, Livingston

  • Bernard Rose
    Literary programmer, Billings Public Library

Interested in serving on the advisory committee? Email