Children's department pictures

FOCAL      Friends of Children and Literature

boy reading

For Students in grades 3 - 8

girl reading

Three Essay Contest Winners will be selected, one each from grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8.

The three Essay Contest winners will be invited to the FOCAL Award presentation and will receive a copy of the award-winning book. Their teacher and a parent will also receive an invitation to the Award presentation where each winner will have an opportunity to meet the author and will read his/her essay aloud.

Contest rules

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 in your word processor using 12 point font.

      • No title is required.
      • Check spelling, punctuation, and grammar carefully. Mistakes will disqualify the entry.
      • Be sure there are no more than 300 words.

Submit online Use this link: . Complete the contest entry form provided below the Contest Rules and submit the essay by copy/pasting it into the space labeled “Write your essay in the space below.” Be sure to include the word count on a separate line at the end.

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.

Online entries only: Submit by October 21, 2023 at this link:

The FOCAL Judging Panel will choose the three winning essays. Each winner will be notified by November 1.

History of FOCAL Award
Teacher Guide to Award Book (if available)
Essay Contest

Newsletters 2009 - present
and one from 2005

Membership Application


LAPL; Award Author's Websites; Authors and Illustrators Involved with FOCAL; Literature Connections; California History Connections

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