In the spring of 2008 the ISLMA (Illinois School Library Media Association) board approved establishing a committee to explore creating a new book award that would fit between the Monarch (K-3) and Rebecca Caudill Awards (grades 4-8).
The Bluestem Award is designed for students in grades 3-5 who are ready for longer titles than found on the Monarch list but not quite ready for the sophistication of some of the Rebecca Caudill titles. Named in honor of Big Bluestem, which is the state prairie grass, the award may include both timeless classics and current titles, as well as books that have appeared on the Monarch and Rebecca Caudill lists.
At St. Benedict Preparatory School, students in grades 3-5 read from the Bluestem Award list. They must read 4 books from the list of 20 in order to vote the last week of February 2017. Winners will be announced March 2017.