Children's department pictures

FOCAL      Friends of Children and Literature

boy reading


For Students in Grades 3 - 8

girl reading

The FOCAL Award is presented annually to an author for a creative work that enriches a child's appreciation for and understanding of California.

   book cover

The 2020 award goes to —

Todos Iguales: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove = All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon Grove

by Christy Hale

(New York: Children's Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books Inc., [2019])
(call number: S x 370 H161)

Three essay winners will be invited to the FOCAL Award Luncheon on September 5, 2020 and receive a copy of the autographed award winning book and meet the authors and illustrator. Their teacher and a parent will also receive a complimentary ticket to the award luncheon where the winners will read their essays.

Essays are due by August 3, 2020

To enter the Essay Contest

Read the book, available at your school library, public library, or bookstore.
Compose an essay of no more than 300 words using three separate paragraphs explaining:
     1. Your reactions to the book as a whole.
     2. Your thoughts about a character or scene that stuck with you.
     3. What it would mean for you to meet the author.
Type the essay on white paper, 8 1/2" x 11" using 12 point font.
     • No title is required.
     • Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar carefully. Mistakes will disqualify the entry.
     • Attach the completed Contest Entry Form: FOCAL-EssayContest2020.pdf to the essay.
     • Mail to the address on the Contest Entry Form.
Online option: Use the link provided:   Complete the contest entry information and submit the essay following the instructions given above.
Individual students may each submit their own entry.
Only one entry per student is allowed.
Teachers may select the three (3) most original entries per classroom to submit.
Mailed entries: postmarked by August 3, 2020.
Online entries: submitted by August 3, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. PST at this link:

The FOCAL Judges will choose three essays. Each winner will be notified by August 17, 2020.

FOCAL is the Friends support group
for the Children’s Literature Department
of Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library

Current "Fun for Kids"
Current Newsletter


Membership Application
History of FOCAL Award
Teacher Guide to Award Book (if available)
Essay Contest
Essay Entry form

Newsletters 2009 - present
and one from 2005

Membership Application


Current "Fun for Kids"; LAPL; Award Author's Websites; Authors and Illustrators Involved with FOCAL; Literature Connections; California History Connections