The Milner Award began in 1983 with the gift and inspiration of schoolteacher Vera (Deady) Milner
who wanted to promote reading among Atlanta-area children. Every year since then, children in elementary schools and libraries vote for the author of the books they love to read. The winner is invited to Atlanta and is honored at a program attended by the children.
The purpose of the Milner Award is to develop in children a lifelong love of reading. To encourage and nurture reading for pleasure, every Atlanta elementary school is offered a chance to participate in the ballot process through their librarians and media specialists, who inspire and guide young readers to open their imaginations through words and books. Over 100 elementary schools a year submit thousands of ballots with the names of favorite authors competing to join former Milner Award winners in receiving this honor.
Vera A. (Deady) Milner, for whom the Milner Award is named, was born in 1897 in Juliette, Georgia, the second oldest of five children. Deady’s family moved to Atlanta when she was a young child, and she was educated in the Atlanta Public School system. She graduated from the University of Georgia and did graduate study at the University of Virginia. She taught fourth grade for a number of years at the Pryor Street school which has since closed
A true “woman ahead of her time,” Deady Milner had a tremendous influence on a large number of young people through her teaching. She was also interested in physical fitness long before it was a fashionable thing to do, and taught exercise classes at the YWCA for a number of years. She was a director for a girls’ camp in New Hampshire for many summers. She loved to travel, and in the late 30s she traveled alone to India and was so saddened at conditions there that she stayed and taught school for a year. She loved birding and all kinds of hand work (knitting, crocheting, embroidery, weaving and needlepoint). But her greatest loves were reading and children.
Deady Milner died at the age of 84 in 1982, and her niece, Belle Turner Lynch who continues to shepherd the Milner Award today said, “I wish that every child could have a Deady in their life!”