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Two-time Emmy award winning journalist Linsey Davis is known for her work as a correspondent for Good Morning America, 20/20, ABC News, and Nightline. She’s covered some of the most important events of modern history, including the Boston Marathon bombing, political campaigns, Michael Jackson’s death, and racial injustices.
And now, she’s taken on a new role as a children’s book author. The World is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings is about a brother and sister who discover the beauty of playing outdoors, visiting the zoo, shopping at a farmer’s market, eating dinner with their parents, and snuggling into their beds at night.
Inspired by her young son, Ayden, Davis told Babble about the moment the book idea came to her:
“I was driving in the car,” said Davis. “My son, Ayden was 2 at the time, and out of nowhere he asked, ‘Who opens the flowers, God?’ I was both shocked and thrilled at the same time that he would make such a connection and that he was so curious about God and the world. And it made me believe that toddlers are ready to get those answers and have a very gentle and meaningful introduction to God.”
Davis also points out something so important. As busy parents, with careers and responsibilities, we easily forget and take the beauty of our surroundings for granted.
“It’s easy to stop paying attention to all the marvels all around us — the sunsets, rainbows or bunny rabbits. But my son has redirected my attention with his excitement and enthusiasm. He squeals, ‘Oooo look at the butterflies!’ He’s so eager to point out what he sees, and looks and chases squirrels or falling snowflakes. And that’s infectious and often things I simply had stopped noticing. Now I find myself pointing out things I know he’ll love with the same vigor and say, “Ooooo … look at that chipmunk!’ I would equate writing this book with remembering how good it feels to really look at a sunrise or watch a bee in a flower or roll around in fresh-cut grass. So yes, this book is my expression of all have regained through looking at life through the eyes of a child.”
The book is full of detailed, whimsical illustrations that perfectly capture Davis’ words. But the theme and illustrations are not all that makes this book a stand-out among a sea of children’s picture books. Davis’ protagonists and their parents are black.
As a mom of four black children, I asked Davis: Was her decision to create a book featuring a family of color intentional?
“Part of what inspired me is that my son is black, and when I was going to bookstores to find books for him, there aren’t a lot of books with characters that look like him,” said Davis. “I found that more than 90 percent of the protagonists in children’s books are white and yet roughly half of the children in this country are not white. Studies show that’s not healthy for kids who look to books for self-affirmation and look to books to find themselves.”
On the other hand, she also shared that the book wasn’t written any differently based on the color of the children.
“The truth is, the only thing we did differently involves the illustration,” said Davis. “Their skin is a different color from most protagonists, but isn’t that the lesson after all? Sometimes the outside color is ALL that is different about us as people.”
Another important part of Davis’ book took me by surprise: The family in the book sits down to dinner with no electronic devices in sight.
“The family time and face time is becoming so uncommon lately,” Davis remarked. “Even when families are together these days, they are not together in a unified sense of active conversation and eye contact. I notice it in my own household, and I make a conscious effort for all of us to try to detach from cells and iPads and laptops, and sit around a table and just chat. I just feel that’s so important for my son to see how it USED to be. Even when families weren’t necessarily having direct conversations in the ’80s and ’90s (before smartphones, etc.), there was a presence and a togetherness that fed us. I think that was much healthier than our digital diets of today.”
Given how heavy and divisive society is right now, which impacts parents and children alike, I appreciated Davis’ book that reminds families of what truly matters: appreciating the beauty in detail, heading outside to enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and family togetherness.
“Let’s just keep kids kids, and let them play and experience and revel in what remains good. There’s a still a lot of that. We can forget if we aren’t looking for it,” says Davis.
We couldn’t agree more.
The World is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings is available now.