Linsey Davis is an Emmy Award winning ABC News Correspondent, filing reports for World News, Good Morning America, 20/20 and Nightline and she is also a bestselling author of the children’s books The World is Awake, and One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different. Her books depict a diverse cast of characters that imparts lessons of acceptance, blessings, and kindness. Mrs. Davis gave us an interview about her book One Big Heart, which is now available in Spanish.
What inspired you to write One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different?
The climate in this country seemed especially divisive in a way that I felt was pitting people of races and religions against each other. And I just felt that for my son, who was in the midst of perhaps the most formative years of his childhood, that kind of rhetoric was really dangerous. So this was my way of combatting that. I wanted to be very clear and upfront that yes, people look and believe and behave differently, but in the end, we are more alike than different. People always say that kids don’t see color. I disagree. They do see color. They just don’t assign a value to it. Adults do that. So I felt that by pointing out the differences, only to then contrast that with how much we are similar, would really help kids put this all in better context.
The story is written in lyrical rhythms, which is perfect for read-aloud. What process did you follow to write the book this way?
Growing up I used to always enjoy writing poetry. Ultimately, that’s really what children’s books are—illustrated poems. So once I come up with a theme, the rest is relatively easy. It’s just a matter of telling a story through rhyme with a specific beginning, middle, and end. This particular kind of “poem” needs to have a real arc to the story and be written in a way that intrigues children and keeps their attention. My son is like my muse. I write based on what I see that he is attracted to in books and in life. He is my inspiration in every book I write.
The illustrations created by Lucy Fleming in your books are beautiful. Do you have a favorite one and why?
When the publisher initially asked me the feel I was going for, one word popped into my head…whimsical. Lucy Fleming captures that and then some. There is a magical component to her drawings that draw the reader in. I am so pleased with each of her visions and illustrations for each book. It would be difficult to pick a favorite. It’s tantamount to asking a parent to choose a favorite child J.
Your book is about inclusivity, celebrating diversity, and accepting our differences. For parents reading this book to their children, what is the takeaway that you want children to get?
I want children to know that they were perfectly knit together in their mother’s womb... that they were designed intentionally and purposefully. I want kids to celebrate the uniqueness of who they are and who they are destined to be. To revel in it and not shy away from their skin, shape, or what makes them special. And likewise, I think it’s just as important that they don’t try to din anyone else’s light—that they celebrate themselves and their classmates and playmates. I hope they won’t let differences keep them from getting to know someone else or but that they will embrace that in their friendships.
To quote from One Big Heart, "Each one of us is different, 'cuz what fun would it be if I looked like my classmates and they all looked like me?" Through the eyes of a child, how does diversity connect us, and how are we more alike than different?
We can look no further than the human genome project—science tells us our DNA is 99.9 percent the same. And to quote a latter theme of the book…God gave us all one special gift. He gave us one big heart and that is the most important part because that’s where love starts.
In your work as a journalist, you get to see both the best and worst of society. How does your work as a journalist influence your work as a children’s author?
Reporting for TV news and authoring children’s books are really two distinctly different worlds, but the notion of telling a story is really very much the same. I look to children’s books as a respite from the heaviness of the day to day that we often find ourselves reporting on in the news industry. It’s a chance to write very wistfully about nature and childhood and goodness. When authoring a children’s book, the world is our oyster. Whatever we desire really, we can talk about it in an uplifting way with pretty pictures to match. I love that as well as the contrast of reporting on history and milestones and the daily occurrences and headlines of the day. Both jobs are rewarding and satisfying in their own way.
Our last question, are you working on other books?
YES! I have two more books that I am currently working on. I am very excited about both. Each one is again inspired by my son and I hope they will in turn, inspire other children around the world!