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Video: ‘Heaven is for Real,’ for kids

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    >>> well, the story of a little boy 's near-death experience and what he described as a trip to heaven quickly turned into a best-selling book. " heaven is for real" has spent the past 52 weeks on the new york times best sellers list, including 44 weeks at number one. and now the family who brought it to us is out with a children's version called " heaven is for real" for kids and todd, sonja and colton burpo are with us this morning. good morning to all of you, it's good to see you again.

    >> good morning.

    >> let's recap for those who aren't familiar with the book. when colton was 4 years old he had a burst appendix, had several surgeries. having come through that, he started telling you guys about having seen heaven . what did he say, todd?

    >> i think his stories have been incredible. he can see us where we were in the hospital while he was in surgery, so that first grabbed our attention because those facts, we didn't know how he knew them. then he goes on to talk about a sister he met in heaven , my grandfather and of course he tells us what god looks like. the only painting of jesus that he's ever said is right, the information he shares is pretty incredible.

    >> sonja , colton seemed to know things you had never told him. after all he was only 4 years old.

    >> he told us about our miscarried daughter and about a great grandfather he had never met and various other things.

    >> colton , it's been eight years now, it's a long time for anybody. do you still have those vivid memories of heaven ?

    >> yes, i do.

    >> and what stands out most in your mind? what can you really still see?

    >> well, the things i remember most are my family members and jesus.

    >> do you worry at all that those memories will get fuzzier and fuzzier over time ? that happens to everybody.

    >> no. i think those memories are implanted.

    >> let's address the skepticism, because i know you're familiar with it. i guess it has two parts. on the one hand some people are just -- they want to believe this, who wouldn't want to believe it, but they wonder could it really be true that someone so young could actually see heaven and live to tell about it.

    >> well, we questioned our son as first. i think as parents everyone can tell when their 4-year-old is telling the truth. when they're telling you things they cannot make up, we're close enough to verify the story. for people that are farther away, we understand that. but we also see all the people that are finding peace and hope and comfort from colton 's story. so for those people that might even be against the story, we just look past them and see all the people that are getting peace and hope. it's incredible to have ideas. what do my loved ones look like, how am i going to meet them, what's it going to be like. and for them to hear that and have peace, that's what we focus on.

    >> it's an amazing perspective to start thinking in those terms and i think the other criticism would be, well, you wrote a book about it, now you've got a kids book and i hear a movie might be in the works. so for those saying is this all about getting a profit, what would your response be, sonja ?

    >> it's not about that. we're just going to share the story, god bless the story and a lot of people have found different parts in it that felt their hearts and are touched by it. our intention was to just write and help a few people and it just kind of exploded. the kids book we're superthrilled about.

    >> colton , i know people that are your age can read it. are you pretty excited about that, about sharing your story?

    >> actually the book isn't for my age. i'd say the adult version is more their age. but kids 4 through 8, it's a 32-page picture book . so it works for them pretty good because the wording is easy, pictures describe the story.

    >> well, it 's wonderful to have you here. have you thought about who might play you in the movie?

    >> i have no clue. i think those two already have a few people that they already have but i don't.

    >> all right. well, you'll have to pick somebody pretty good to play you. thank you so much. it's great to have you. once again the book is " heaven is for real" for kids. a live

updated 11/29/2011 9:49:30 AM ET 2011-11-29T14:49:30

Colton Burpo’s account of visiting heaven when he nearly died of a burst appendix at the age of 4 is the subject of the book “Heaven Is for Real,” and an illustrated edition for children, “Heaven Is for Real for Kids.” Now aged 12, the son of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo recounted sitting in Jesus' lap, meeting John the Baptist and his own departed great-grandfather, and having angels sing to him during his near-death experience.

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Video: ‘Pops’ had ‘huge wings’ in heaven, boy says (on this page)

Colton also described watching his parents in the hospital during his several surgeries, as well as meeting a sister in heaven, which astonished his parents, who had never told him that his mother, Sonja, had suffered a miscarriage two years before Colton was born. Soon after his father began sharing Colton’s story from the pulpit of his Imperial, Neb., church, a publisher became interested. Now “Heaven Is for Real” has spent 52 straight weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

Read an excerpt from ‘Heaven Is for Real’

Skeptics have questioned Colton’s account, attributing the vivid details of his description to his religious upbringing. But others believe that the boy really did have a glimpse of the hereafter.

Video: Don’t believe boy saw heaven? Parents talk proof (on this page)

Appearing on TODAY Tuesday with his parents, Colton stuck firmly to his account and told Savannah Guthrie that the details have not faded in the eight years since his near-death experience: “The things I remember most are my family members and Jesus,” he said.

Video: ‘Heaven is for Real,’ for kids (on this page)

His father supports Colton’s story as well. “We questioned our son at first,” Todd Burpo told Guthrie. “But as parents, everyone can tell when their 4-year-old is telling the truth.”

Do you believe Colton Burpo really visited heaven and returned from death’s door to tell about it?

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Vote: Do you believe 12-year-old Colton Burpo really saw heaven?

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