When Linsey Davis comes on your television screen, chances are you’re seeing her report some pretty serious news. The Emmy award-winning journalist is changing things up as she introduces her very first children’s book “The World Is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings” just in time for Mother’s Day.
Already a best-seller, the book follows the lives of two young Black siblings who learn about God’s inspiration around them on a trip outdoors with their parents. With beautiful illustrations and a moving message, Davis centers the story on a specific passage form the Bible: Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made.”
Davis, a reporter at ABC News, wife and mother, says her 4-year-old son Ayden was her inspiration throughout the process. She also saw a need for more diversity in the publishing world — a phenomenon recently addressed by writer Denene Millner in her New York Times op-ed “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time.”
We spoke with Davis about adding a spiritual aspect to her book, the challenges of raising young a Black son when you cover the news and the powerful lessons she hopes kids receive in seeing characters that look like themselves.
theGrio: You’re a busy, professional woman who is also a wife and mom. Why was it so important for you to write this book?
Linsey Davis: When my son Ayden was two years old, we were driving in the car and out of the blue he asked, ‘Mommy, does God open up the flowers?’ I was really pleased by that question [because] at such young age he had this curiosity and desire to know about God and his creations. That moment inspired me and I thought, let me give just a basic introduction to toddlers and young kids to who God is in the world around them, in a way that they can relate.
theGrio: How impactful is it for kids of color to see themselves, either in books, cartoons or television shows?
Linsey Davis: Children look to books for self-affirmation. If they don’t see themselves in books then they’re going to stop looking to books to find themselves. When it’s Black History Month, you’ll find that table that has all of the books with the Black kids, but in general when I was looking for books that had Black protagonists, it was difficult. Then I started doing my research and put my reporter hat on. I found out more than 90 percent of the protagonists in children books were white.
Meanwhile, you have half of the kids in this country who are not white, so that’s a problem. They need to be reaffirmed and see images that look like themselves.
Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." This is indeed THEE day! My first book, The World Is Awake, is now available! Happy to celebrate the everyday blessings in these pages and so grateful for all the support! My son and his daily excitement about the world around him became my inspiration for writing this book. It gave me a chance to demonstrate the renewed vision he has given me. So often, as adults, it’s easy to stop paying attention to the marvels all around us—the sunsets, rainbows, or bunny rabbits; but my son has redirected my attention with his wide-eyed enthusiasm. He squeals, “Oooh, look at the butterflies!” He’s so eager to point out what he sees and flashes that bright smile as he tries to chase birds just before they take flight or capture falling snowflakes midair. His joy is infectious. Often, he's thrilled about things I simply had stopped noticing. Now I find myself pointing out something I know he'll love with the same vigor and say, "Oooh, Ayden, look at that rainbow and all its beautiful colors!" I would equate writing this book with rediscovering how exciting it can be to take the time to stop, notice and reconnect with the "little things" again. The World Is Awake is my way of expressing all I have rediscovered by looking at life through the eyes of a child and the joy to be gained from that.
theGrio: How has motherhood changed your life?
Linsey Davis: In every possible way! (Laughs) In some ways it has been a renewed vision for me having a son who is so excited about seeing things truly for the first time. I do the news regularly in my day job. A lot of times, the news is not necessarily good news.
The other day he was putting together some Legos. I was covering the Starbucks arrests in Philadelphia while Robin Roberts interviewed the guys on the show. I was watching the interview on the DVR with the guys when my son asked, ‘Why did the police take those men to jail mommy?’ And then he said, ‘If we go into Starbucks, is the police gonna come?’
I was floored. I just didn’t think that he was paying attention and then it’s like, “Where are we gonna go with this conversation, with a 4-year-old?” This [book] was a way for me to also do something that I could share with my son.
This is a project that he can be part of and be proud of as an example of something that is both uplifting and positive.