Ready 2 Read

Ready 2 Read is the Montana State Library's early literacy initiative andwas inspired by Montana-based early literacy programs such as Hopa Mountain's Storymakers program and Every Child Ready to Read. Ready 2 Read is meant to help parents and caregivers - especially low-income families - understand the value of sharing language and literacy with their children, and to empower them in aiding their children's language and knowledge growth. Ready 2 Read also includes providing professional development opportunities and trainings on early literacy so that librarians who work with young children and families can better assist and carry out the goals of early literacy development.​

Ready 2 Read - General Programming and Resources

Ready 2 Read - Texting Program

The Ready 2 Read Texting Program was launched in October 2015 in order to provide parents and caregivers of four-year-olds FREE early literacy tips through texts on their phone. Those who sign up will receive three text messages per week for 8 months that provide easy, fun, and useful ideas for helping children develop and practice their early literacy skills. 

Signing up for the program is FREE and EASY. Text the word "SIGNUP" to 406-204-3583

You can use the following publicity materials to help with outreach efforts in your community

You are welcome to download and print out copies of these materials yourself, or request copies from the State Library directly.

Ready 2 Read - Supercharged Storytime Learning Cohort

Supercharged Storytime Banner

From Webjuction: "Supercharged Storytimes is a self-paced course consisting of six modules, which include videos, readings, activities, and reflection questions. The course provides training in how to intentionally apply research-based practices to boost early literacy in young children attending library storytime."

To help create communities of early literacy learning and practice among librarians, the Montana State Library has started organizing small learning cohorts to work through the Supercharged Storytimes course through Webjunction. Cohort participants work through each of the self-paced modules on Webjunction, and then meet online to discuss materials and share ideas.

If you are interested in participating in a Supercharged Storytime cohort, please email Amelea Kim at to be put on a notification list for the next cohort. Interested participants must apply to be part of the cohort, and limited space is available (usually 6 or 7 spots).

Past Cohorts

Fall 2019 (May - Aug): 6 participants

Winter 2020 (Jan - Mar): 7 participants

Winter 2021 (Jan - Mar): 5 participants

Winter 2022 (Jan - Mar): 4 participants

Winter 2023 (Jan - Mar): 7 participants

Ready 2 Read Rendezvous

2022 Conference Dates and Location

  • Location: Lewistown, MT at the Calvert Hotel
  • Dates: Friday, October 21st, to Sunday October 23rd.
  • Deadline to Apply: September 7th, 2022
  • Application Form Link: Ready 2 Read Application Form

Conference Description

The 2022 Ready 2 Read Rendezvous is an opportunity for librarians from across Montana to receive additional training to strengthen their role in serving families with young children in their communities. Librarians who work with children directly will benefit the most from attending the Rendezvous.  
The Rendezvous will feature nationally-known experts on storytelling and early literacy programming, as well as how to be culturally respectful when choosing stories to share with children. For more details on workshop descriptions and speaker bios, please see below.
The librarians who are selected to attend will have the following expenses related to the Rendezvous covered: 

  • Two nights hotel (October 21st and 22nd)
  • Food (Friday – Dinner, Saturday – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, Sunday – Breakfast and Lunch)

As we have limited funding and space, we will be setting a cap on the number of attendees selected for the 2022 Rendezvous. We anticipate being able to accommodate about 15 librarians. If selected for the Rendezvous, your library’s representative must agree to attend all trainings and events related to the Rendezvous, to participate fully in the discussions, and to complete evaluation forms related to the event.

An additional expectation for Rendezvous attendees is to design a project that addresses a child/family-focused need in their community using what they learn at the conference. We expect this project to be:

  • Purposeful: Why have you chosen this need? What data do you have to support your decision?
  • Impactful: What goals and outcomes do you want for your project? How will your project explicitly address this need?
  • Measurable: How will you evaluate your project? How will you reflect on what you can improve while the project is ongoing, as well as when the project has concluded? How will you evaluate the impact on your patrons/community?

Please note that we expect this project to take significant time and effort on your part. If you are not prepared to commit to a long-term project for this next year, we encourage you to apply a different year when you are ready. 

Your follow-up commitments will include:

  • Goal setting and evaluation design for your project
  • Individual check-ins with the Lifelong Learning Librarian
  • Group check-ins with your fellow Rendezvous attendees
  • Implementation of your project and progress monitoring

All funding for the Ready 2 Read Rendezvous has been generously provided by Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) money from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

CE credit will be given for the Rendezvous, as well as follow-up trainings and meetings for Rendezvous projects. 

Conference Speakers


Jenifer Strauss, Storyteller, Speaker, and Narrative Consultant

Jen Strauss uses her passion for story to help educators, organizations and individuals connect with others, communicate ideas, and achieve goals. Following ten years as a public school educator, Jenifer combined her love of teaching and storytelling and in 1993, founded her business, Story Be Told.

During her years in the classroom, Jen used storytelling with her students to capture interest, motivate learning, and inspire writing. She learned that people think, learn and imagine in story or narrative and helped her students make powerful connections between imagining, speaking, and writing.  As a College Academic Success Coach, she helped students create and pursue the future story they wished to live. Now traveling nationally, Jen offers interactive story performances, dynamic conference keynotes, workshops, trainings and coaching along with writing workshops and long-term involvements as an Artist-in-Residence.

Since 1993, Jenifer has designed library programs to coincide with the national Summer Reading theme along with offering year-round library programs for staff members, librarians and patrons, including national Best Storytime Practice trainings, Friend of the Library Dinner Theater, Teen Lock-in Nights and other seasonal and special programming.

Jenifer’s credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan, an elementary education degree from Western Michigan University, and a secondary education degree in Biology from Michigan State University. Jenifer’s publications and recordings include Telling Stories: The Cygnus Storytelling Handbook and a CD called U Tell A Tale: Stories Told Through-U. Her recording; Michigan Legends and Lore: Stories from Shore to Shore, was released in the fall of 2009 and focuses on Michigan History.


Dr. Harriette Bailey, Professor, Researcher, and Educational Consultant

Dr. Harriette N. Bailey is an Associate Professor, B-K Coordinator, Principal Investigator, and Co-Principal Investigator at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Dr. Bailey has extensive experiences in higher education, early intervention, early care and education, and child and family outcomes. She is passionate about preparing students to deliver effective and equitable services for diverse children and families. Dr. Bailey’s research interests include: appropriate services for infants and toddlers, cultural competency, cultural humility, anti-bias curriculum, family engagement, and designing effective policies and supports for young children and families.

She is a member of North Carolina’s State Interagency Coordinating Council, a Governor appointed position, Council for Exceptional Children (TED and DEC), NAEYC and National Black Child Development Institute. She is Co-owner and Educational Consultant with Bailey, Pullis & Riggins LLC. In this role, she provides educational consultation tailored to the needs of the consumer: such as Professional Development, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion planning and facilitation, Early Childhood Anti-Bias Implementation, Cultural Awareness, Competence and Humility.

Workshop Descriptions

Storytime is Your Time to Shine! with Jenifer Strauss, A Workshop Designed to Empower Youth Librarians

Storyteller, Speaker, and Narrative Consultant Jen Strauss will present a day-long workshop for The Ready to Read Rendezvous; Montana State Library’s Early Literacy Conference.

Spotlighting the ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read Five Practices, Jen Strauss will demonstrate how to build interactive programs that will engage young patrons AND model healthy language & literacy practices for parents and caregivers.

This intentionally hands-on workshop will focus on the important Window of Opportunity during the brain development of children, 0-6 years of age and emphasize the power of diverse language experiences to help children grow, learn and mature. Participants will be given a multitude of opportunities to engage in stories, songs, and language-rich “make-and-takes” for props, pre-writing and writing activities. Participants will be introduced to a Storytime Planning Template, receive extensive workshop handouts,  the PowerPoint deck, and future access to the presenter for questions and consultation.

Workshop topics and activities will include:

  • Reading, Talking & Talking about What You are Reading
  • Singing Your Way to Literacy: The Power of Rhythm, Rhyme, and Movement
  • Puppets, Props and Play: Enriching & Expanding Your Storytime Language Experience
  • Pre-Writing and Writing Activities for Before, During and After Storytime
  • Share-Out Collaboration for Favorite Storytime Topics, Books & Activities

Early Literacy, Brain Development, and Community Engagement with Dr. Harriette Bailey

“From birth, children are learning language and developing the ability to communicate. Language development begins with children’s ability to understand what others are communicating with them.The youngest children build the foundation for reading and writing as they explore books, listen to songs and nursery rimes, hear stories, and begin to draw and scribble.” North Carolina Foundations Task Force.(2013). North Carolina foundations for early learning and development. Raleigh: Author.

Participants with explore the foundations of early literacy (birth-age 8), including brain development, using research to inform best practices when working the young children and their families. We will spend some time discussing strategies to incorporate early literacy activities in the library experience. Participants will engage in “Make It – Take It” activities to spark their individual creativity to share with children and families, and possible community activities that support early literacy. Finally, we will discuss services in the community that may be available to support children’s overall development, but language and literacy. This will be a fun-filled session that encourages questions, creativity, and collaboration.

Ready 2 Read Goes Wild




The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild program, a joint project between the Montana State Library and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, uses nature and Montana animals to spark kids' interest in language and literacy, math and science, and the natural world that surrounds them. This program was originally launched in 2010 and provided themed trunks with activity resources in them to libraries around the state. The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild program went on hiatus in 2019 so the Montana State Library could organize the program, and sort out logistical issues, and has now relaunched in 2021 with a Bear Trunk that is available at 5 participating libraries, listed below. We are also in process of piloting a Bat Trunk that is available at 4 participating libraries. 

The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild program uses two outdoor education curriculums:

Montana FWP is active with Growing Up Wild and Project Wild, so if you are interested in learning more about either of these curriculums outside of the current Ready 2 Read Goes Wild trunks, please feel free to do so!

Bear Trunk Libraries

  • Della VanSetten, Choteau/Teton Public Library
  • Karen Ketchu, Madison Valley Public Library
  • Andrew Boll, Stillwater County Library
  • Austin Castle, Glacier County Library

Bat Trunk Libraries

  • Molly Hudson, Lewis and Clark County Library
  • Ashley Martin, Havre-Hill County Library
  • Ann Brooks, ImagineIF Kalispell
  • Allynne Ellis, Billings Public Library

Anyone at these libraries with a library card in good standing can check out the trunks and use them for educational programming. Please contact the library directly if you have questions about the Bear Trunk, and how to borrow it. 

To read more about the 2021 relaunch of Ready 2 Read Goes Wild, please check out the following press release:

FWP and MSL Partnership History

The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild partnership with FWP originally started back in 2010 with Sara Groves, the previous Lifelong Learning Librarian. The 2021 relaunch was made possible with assistance from Ryan Schmaltz and Danielle Oyler at FWP, so thank you Ryan and Danielle for your hard work! 

Supplemental Materials

Reimagining School Readiness - Train-the-Trainer

What is the Reimagining School Readiness Program?

The Reimagining School Readiness Train-the-Trainer program is a professional development program designed to train library staff to use the Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit. The Toolkit, originally developed by the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) in collaboration with the California State Library (CSL), is a set of free resources which includes tips and strategies for librarians, and activities for children and caregivers that prepare children for success in school. The current program is offered as part of a nearly $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded to Pacific Library Partnership (PLP). PLP is partnering with BADM, and CSL to train libraries across the country on how to use the Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit to positively impact families and children in their communities. This program is now in its third year, and Montana is excited to be participating.

Please read more about BADM, the Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit, and the IMLS grant at the following links:

What will the RSR Toolkit program look like in Montana?

As a part of this cohort, the Montana State Library will do the following:

  • Send two Montana librarians to attend two virtual trainings with the Bay Area Discovery Museum in January 2022. The two librarians attending the 2022 trainings are:
    • Amelea Kim, Lifelong Learning Librarian at Montana State Library
    • Bayley Gibson, Public Services Librarian at the Madison Valley Public Library
  • Plan and design workshops to train Montana librarians in the toolkit resources and research behind the resources. These workshops will be virtual, with the possibility of in-person opportunities as circumstances allow.
  • Provide annual trainings in future years to refresh and reenergize those who have already been trained, and to introduce new librarians to the toolkit and help them learn how to use it.


Who can attend the Reimagining School Readiness training events?

Any Montana librarian is welcome to attend these trainings! Trainings are free, and you are also welcome to invite any of your community partners to these events as well. These trainings would be most interesting and applicable to librarians who work directly with young children (0-5) and their families, but we are happy to have anyone with interest in this topic. 

Scheduled Training Dates 

All trainings are virtual, unless stated otherwise. 

  • Session 1: Thursday, November 2nd, 2023 from 9:30 - 11:30 am
  • Session 2: Thursday, November 9th, 2023 from 9:30 - 11:30 am
  • Session 3: Thursday, November 16th, 2023 from 9:30 - 10:30 am

Ready 2 Read - 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

What is 1000 Books Before Kindergarten?

1000 Books Before Kindergarten Logo

1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a fun, early-literacy focused project that challenges families and caregivers to read 1,000 books to their children before they start kindergarten. This program focuses on helping children develop early literacy skills, empowering parents, families, and caregivers to be their children's first teachers, and encouraging quality family time in a fun and engaging way.1000 Books Before Kindergarten was originally created in Nevada, and has since spread across the nation, with programs flourishing in all kinds of communities.How Does It Work?Public libraries can create their own 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program to help encourage all pre-K children in the community and their families learn to love reading and strengthen their early literacy skills. To start a program, you will need:
  • A Tracking Method for Books
  • A theme (not required, but helpful for planning)
  • Support for families participating in the program: This can be anything from prizes to reaching certain book milestones to early literacy tips to beefing up your children's collection or just giving book recommendations!

There are TONS of examples of public libraries who have started this program, and it works in libraries of all shapes and sizes, due to how customizable it is. There are also great ideas for themes, too, that are fun to look through!

Participating Libraries in Montana

Other Resources