Linsey Davis Writes Kids' Book to Help Her Son Find 'Solace' After He Asks to Visit His Grandma in Heaven

Linsey Davis talks to PEOPLE about the inspiration behind her latest picture book, How High is Heaven?

Linsey Davis
Linsey Davis. Photo: Danny Weiss/ABC

A few years ago, Linsey Davis was on a plane with her son Ayden when he brought up his paternal grandmother, Grandma P., who died when he was one.

The little boy was upset because he couldn't see his grandma in heaven.

"We were on a plane and he just out of nowhere said, 'I don't see her,' " says the ABC News anchor, 44, recalling the interaction with Ayden, now 7, whom she shares with husband Paul Roberts. "And I said, 'You don't see who?' And he said, 'Well, I look out the window looking for Grandma P. in heaven.' "

Davis' conversation with Ayden about Grandma P. had started a few months before the flight, when he asked her why his classmate had two sets of grandparents and he only had one. (Ayden's paternal grandfather had also passed away.)

After Davis showed Ayden pictures of him as a baby with Grandma P., and explained that she was in heaven, he became "really adamant" about visiting her, she explains. Ayden kept talking about visiting heaven for weeks.

After the plane ride, Davis was inspired to write her latest children's book, How High is Heaven?, to help other parents navigate similar conversations about deceased loved ones with their kids. It's a topic that feels more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more children lose their primary caregiver, she says.

Linsey Davis How High is Heaven
Zonderkidz™/Harper Collins/Illustrations by Lucy Fleming

"I know the idea that they'd be reunited at some point, gave [Ayden] some solace," says Davis. "And that's kind of my goal for kids today, especially kids who are losing their parents and grandparents to COVID, and for other reasons as well, that kids will have some amount of consolation that there is hope that they'll see their loved one again."

How High is Heaven? is Davis' fourth picture book. It follows a little boy who misses his grandma and thinks of different ways to get to heaven: building a staircase with Legos, making wings out of cardboard, riding in a hot air balloon. During a visit with his grandpa in Tucson, the little boy learns about the importance of faith in church.

"If we open our hearts to others and love and believe in the Lord, then we'll be living our very best life and heaven will be our reward," Davis writes in How High is Heaven?. (The book is illustrated by Lucy Fleming and published by Zonderkidz.)

Davis explains that by watching her son and his friends, she's learned what speaks to young readers. She says that writing children's books is a respite from her work as anchor of ABC News Live Prime and World News Tonight weekend.

"Quite often, I'm doing the doom and gloom of the daily newscast," she says. "This is a lighter way to be joyful and be uplifting and tell the good news in a way that I hope that the kids and parents will appreciate."

Linsey Davis 
The author with her son Ayden. Linsey Davis 

Ayden loves all of her books, but Davis says this just may be his favorite since getting to heaven was such a "preoccupation" of his.

"I think that when he is looking at these pages, he knows that he was asking me, 'How can I get to heaven? And what do I have to do?' " says Davis. Together, they enjoyed figuring out ways he would try to get to heaven.

"That's how I came up with building the Lego staircase, or the Pogo stick, or the trampoline, or hot air balloon or space ship, because in his mind, these are the things that he would do in order to physically try to get to this place," says Davis, who dedicated the book to Grandma P.

Davis not only wants to write books her son will connect with, she wants to contribute to the number of books for other young readers of color. She's noticed a rise in diverse children's books since The World is Awake published in 2018.

Linsey Davis How High is Heaven
Zonderkidz™/Harper Collins/Illustrations by Lucy Fleming
Linsey Davis How High is Heaven
Zonderkidz™/Harper Collins/Illustrations by Lucy Fleming

"I would say, even before the death of George Floyd, I started seeing other people realizing, look, there's really a shortage, there's something here that's not adding up," says Davis. "I think that there was a time where (of course, this is Black History Month now) every February, the table in front of the big bookstores would have ... all the Black books on it. Now, I think we've gotten beyond just that little smattering."

The Emmy Award-winning correspondent is hopeful because parents of all races are starting to recognize the importance of kids "see[ing] diversity in books."

"There are only so many books that should just have mirrors and hold up a reflection of what your child looks like," Davis says. "That is positive. But, at the same time, books need to have windows as well, so you can peer into a world that is perhaps unfamiliar to your own."

How High is Heaven? is on sale now.

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