The mission of the Children's Gallery, the Children's Crown, and the Lamplighter Awards is to encourage elementary and junior high students to read wholesome and uplifting books by providing lists each year of the best literature.
In 1992 Sandra Morrow librarian at Brentwood Christian School in Austin, Texas, applied to the Texas Christian Schools Association for a grant to establish the Children's Crown Award (the Crown Classic is the runner-up) for children's books for fourth through sixth graders. The grant was awarded the following spring.
Now students, teachers, parents, librarians and interested individuals are encouraged to nominate titles for this award from books that are published or reprinted within the last two years. At the center of the award process is the criteria developed at the time of the grant. Each year twenty books that convey wholesome values, uplifting characters, and edifying themes that inspire children toward positive goals are selected by a committee of readers from participating schools.
Students vote on their favorite book each spring, and the results are tallied and the authors, publishers and schools are notified about the winners and runners-up. During winter, the lists for the following school year are sent to participating schools, as well as to authors and publishers whose books have been selected.
In August 1994, a similar grant was received by Mrs. Morrow to develop a program for grades six through eight. It is called the Lamplighter Award (the Lamplighter Classic is the runner-up) and there are ten titles.
In April 2000, the Children's Gallery Award, a 1st-3rd grade picture book category, was established. There are ten books on the list and the runner-up is the Gallery Classic. All of the awards are endorsed by the National Christian School Association.
Librarians and parents at participating schools are happy to know their students and children are reading books that promote the kind of values they are trying to instill. As more and more schools and churches participate in these programs, we look forward to having even more nominees from which to select.
In July 1996, the first annual National Christian Librarians' Conference was held at Harding University near Little Rock, Arkansas. It was begun due to numerous requests for Christian librarians to be able to share common goals of providing the best literature and library services available. The following year, the first annual Laureate Award was presented to the librarian who most creatively promoted the programs.
In 2001 Sandra Morrow was named the Vaughn D. Luster, Jr. Christian Educator of the Year. This national award, sponsored by the National Christian School Association, recognizes each year a Christian educator who has had a lasting impact on schools across the nation. In 2002, Lubbock Christian University presented Mrs Morrow with the Distinguished Alumni Citation. In 2006, Abilene Christian University awarded her its Distinguished Alumni Citation.
In 2016, administration of the awards was transferred to Brackett Library at Harding University. Brackett Library will partner with the National Christian School Association to continue the work Sandra Morrow began and remain faithful to the mission of the Triple Crown Awards.
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