To find inspiration, all Emmy winner Linsey Davis had to do was look at her son.
The ABC News correspondent just released her first children’s book titled The World Is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings, which “inspires children to be thankful for all of God’s blessings that surround us in our daily lives,” according to its description.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Davis chats about the whimsical new story (co-written with Joseph Bottum and illustrated by Lucy Fleming), dishing on how she found time to write while working and parenting — and how her 3-year-old little boy Ayden was her biggest inspiration.
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PEOPLE: What was your inspiration behind The World Is Awake?
Linsey Davis: My son, Ayden, inspired me to write this book. I have always desired that he learn about God, and what I realized as I was selecting books for him was that the vast majority of children’s books about religion are about stories he enjoys, but he is too young to understand the role of God in Jonah and the whale or David and Goliath.
But one day (when he was just 2) he asked me as we were driving in the car if it is God who opens up the flowers, and that really moved me to think maybe that was the best way to explain God to a toddler, by explaining God’s involvement and presence in nature and the tangible creations around him. So it made sense to use Psalm 118:24 as a foundation for the book: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
PEOPLE: What do you hope children (and their parents) take from this story?
Linsey: I hope parents will find this as a refreshing reminder that sometimes it’s best to remember what it feels and looks like to see and explore the world through the eyes of a child. I hope children will see this as a whimsical and fun way to take on the day and experience and bask in all of God’s splendor around them from the animals to the sunrise to all of nature that is just waiting to be embraced.
I also hope this book accomplishes the notion that children’s books all need a window and a mirror — a mirror to reflect who they are and a window to peer into the world around that is unfamiliar and different. We desperately need more children’s books with diverse characters. That was especially important to me being the mother of an African-American son. I wanted to make sure he saw himself reflected in some of the books we are reading to him on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that’s especially hard to find, but I think that’s essential for all of our kids, especially during this time, to see children who look like them and children who don’t. I think that’s a first step subliminally toward acceptance.
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PEOPLE: How did you balance your work and raising your son with finding time to write the book?
Linsey: Motherhood is synonymous with becoming a master multi-tasker. At a certain point, having a hectic schedule makes you more time-efficient.
So in the time right after drop-off and right before pickup (whether that be swim lessons or pre-K or camp), I was working overtime to get the daily checklist complete and meeting the deadlines of my day job, and then at night, after reading to Ayden and putting him to bed, that was often a time of inspiration and a time I could then put some time into writing … just a little bit at a time here and there. Unlike my regular gig as a correspondent, I didn’t have a hard and fast deadline to meet. I was able to write at my leisure. I enjoyed the outlet.
PEOPLE: What is your favorite part of the day with your son?
Linsey: Weekends are my favorite because that is when we are least restricted by time. My son often starts the day by asking, “Do you have to go to work today?” When I say yes, each and every time he replies, “Why?” And until a few weeks ago, I always said the same thing: “Because I have to make money to buy your toys.” Nowadays that answer is a nonstarter. The other day he responded, “But I don’t want any more toys.” So it’s on those occasions when I can tell him we get to stay together all day long. Those are my absolute favorite times.
PEOPLE: Do you see yourself writing any more children’s books in the future?
Linsey: When people used to ask me what I report on, I used to say “murdered and missing.” Those kinds of stories were often part of daily beat. And while I do occasionally do an upbeat story, what I enjoyed most about the process of writing a children’s book was the chance to just have fun with words and getting back into the playful mindset and spirit of being a child.
My son takes me by the hand each day and points to the world around him with such excitement. He skips, and I forgot how good that feels to skip. At some point in life most adults stop skipping. And that’s unfortunate. 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 while this is my first book, I certainly hope it is not my last.
The World Is Awake: A Celebration of Everyday Blessings is available now on amazon.com in Kindle and hardcover versions.