Montana State Library and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Partner to Support Early Literacy

Montana State Library
  • Genevieve Lighthiser
  • December 10 2021

(HELENA)---The Montana State Library and Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks are pleased to announce a relaunch of the Ready 2 Read Goes Wild Bear Trunk program, which will provide communities throughout Montana with a unique learning opportunity grounded in outdoor education and appreciation.

 The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild program provides themed trunks to public libraries across the state with the goal of providing an opportunity for any patron to share language, literacy, learning and nature with some of Montana’s youngest citizens, children from 3 to 7 years old. The trunks can also be used for older groups, even adults.

 “These trunks and the educational lessons that go along with them give educators the unique hands-on learning opportunity that will give their students a whole new awareness and appreciation for Montana’s bears,” said FWP Education Specialist Ryan Schmaltz.

 Della VanSetten, from the Choteau/Teton Public Library, has already used the trunk in her story time program.

“The children loved getting to touch the bear fur and handle the skull,” VanSetten said. “The kids already knew a lot about bears but using the bear trunk facilitated a conversation that allowed us to clear up misinformation and expand on their knowledge.”


Children at the Choteau/Teton Public Library interacting with a bear pelt, one of the hands-on items found in the Ready 2 Read Goes Wild Bear Trunk.

Currently, there are five public libraries in Montana that have Ready 2 Read Goes Wild Bear Trunks available for check out:

  • Madison Valley Public Library in Ennis
  • Lincoln County Public Library in Libby
  • Choteau/Teton Public Library in Choteau
  • Darby Community Public Library in Darby
  • Stillwater County Public Library in Columbus

As with all library materials, the Ready 2 Read Goes Wild Bear Trunks are free to check out for library patrons in good standing.

The Ready 2 Read Goes Wild Bear Trunk was created with assistance from FWP and uses a variety of bear-focused activities from the Growing Up Wild and Project Wild activity guides, which are correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Head Start standards. It is designed for educators, librarians, caregivers and parents, and features 27 field-tested, hands-on, nature-based activities that include crafts, art projects, music, conservation activities, reading and math connections and more.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with FWP to help Montanans of all ages learn about the wonder of the natural world while they develop skills and appreciation for reading,” said Montana State Librarian Jennie Stapp. “Having a strong foundation in and appreciation for Montana’s wildlife can help create lifelong learners who can continue to feed their curiosity.”

To learn more about the Ready 2 Read Goes Wild program, MSL’s partnership with FWP, or MSL’s early literacy initiative, Ready 2 Read, please contact Amelea Kim, lifelong learning librarian at the Montana State Library at or (406-444-0224). You can also visit the Ready 2 Read Goes Wild webpage at


About the Montana State Library

Through its statewide programs, the Montana State Library empowers Montanans, enhances learning in families and communities, builds 21st Century skills and provides opportunities for civic participation. For more information about the Montana State Library, visit  


About Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks manages the state’s world-renowned fish, wildlife and state parks for the enjoyment of Montana’s citizens and its visitors. For more information about FWP, visit