California, the golden state, has always inspired people. Over the years movies have been made, songs have been recorded, and books written. But are there any children’s books about our fair state? From picture books to nonfiction, every genre of children’s literature has paid homage to the iconic state of California.
A love of California has not only inspired the creation of numerous books, but organizations have awards to honor these titles and give them public recognition. The FOCAL Award and the Beatty Award are given to books written for young people about California.
The Friends of Children and Literature (FOCAL), a non-profit organization that supports the Children’s Literature Department at Central Library, founded the FOCAL Award in 1980. Each year they choose an excellent fiction or nonfiction children’s book that has California content. In conjunction with the award, there is an essay contest for children and the winners get to attend the award ceremony, read their essay aloud and meet the author!
This year the FOCAL award was given to Todos Iguales: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove = All Equal: A Ballad of Lemon Grove by Christy Hale. This bilingual nonfiction book tells the story of the brave Mexican-American families living in Lemon Grove in the 1930s who fought for their children’s right to an equal education. Details about the essay contest can be found on the FOCAL website.
The Beatty Award, founded in 1990, is given out by the California Library Association to books written for children or young adults that promote an awareness of California and its people. This year’s winner, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by Isabelle Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña, is a picture book based on the author’s memories of growing up in Corona, California. Following a father and his young daughter on a motorcycle ride around their town, the reader can see all the beauty and complexity of a rapidly-changing neighborhood
Below is a list of books that show the amazing diversity of California’s regions and people.