In the summer of 2002, several past presidents of ISLMA discussed the need for a K-3 children's book award. The ISLMA Board established a work group to investigate creation of such an award. In April 2003, ISLMA approved the establishment and support of The Monarch Award: Illinois' K-3 Readers' Choice Award.
The name Monarch was chosen because of its familiarity to K-3 children and to symbolize the growth, change and freedom that becoming a reader brings. The Monarch is designed to encourage children to read critically and become familiar with children's books, authors and illustrators. The program is open to all K-3 age children in Illinois.