Is Heaven for Real? An Interview with Author Todd Burpo

With more than seven million copies in print, Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo is one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time. Tomorrow (Friday, July 6th) at 9pm EST, Barbara Walters will feature Todd and his son, Colton, in a special called, “Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?”

Todd is the pastor of a small Wesleyan church in Imperial, Nebraska, just 150 miles from my hometown in Kimball, Nebraska. He is also a wrestling coach and a volunteer fireman. He operates a garage door company with his wife, Sonja, who is also a children’s minister, busy pastor’s wife, and mom.

Heaven Is for Real is a true story about Todd and Sonja’s son Colton. At the age of four, he almost died during an emergency surgery. While unconscious, he claims to have gone to heaven and had some extraordinary experiences.

When I read the book prior to publication, I was, frankly, skeptical. I didn’t know how the book would fit with my theology. I also didn’t have much confidence in the recollection of a four-year old little boy.

But I couldn’t put it down. In fact, I read through it in one sitting. Millions of others have had a similar experience. It has a four-and-a-half star rating on Amazon with almost 3,000 reader reviews. Colton’s experiences are compelling. It is a book of hope that demonstrates this life is only part of the picture.

In this video interview, I ask Todd to recount the story of Colton’s illness and experiences in heaven. He only scratches the surface, but it will give you an idea of why the book has been so hugely successful. I also asked him the value he thinks that the book offers to pastors and others in a leadership role. This is a book you will want to read and pass on to others.

Questions: Have you read this book? What did you think? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Emily Davies

    I read this book recently and also couldn’t put it down. i read it cover to cover in two hours. For me it was a book which bought a lot of healing. Last year I suffered a second miscarriage at 12 weeks, I was angry at God and had many questions – were my babies in heaven? Would I meet them? Did they even matter to God?

    Colton’s very real and powerful account of meeting his sister in heaven – a baby who his mother had miscarried before Colton was even born – answered many of my questions. I now have hope that my children are not only in heaven, but they do matter to god, I will meet them and they will know who I am when I get there. Through this I have been able to move forward in our journey and have hope for our own family on earth one day. :)

  • Kevin Halloran

    I look forward to reading this book. Thanks for sharing Michael!

    Often times the books that touch the heart the most are people’s stories.  I think that is why storytelling is such a powerful teaching and sales tool.

  • Evelyn Cantwell

    Yes, I read the book and have no doubt in what the child said it truth.  How else would a four year old know about the people he had visited with and a four year old is so innocent, they only repeat what they have seen or know. 
    I could not lay it down, Praise the Lord for his Sharing.   Evelyn Cantwell in Ava, MO  

  • Dodson1012

    Regarding Colton seeing relatives who had already died:  the dead do not rise from their graves until the rapture occurs.  (Mark 12 and 1st Thes. 4)  I’m not a Bible scholar, so are there other scriptures that contradict this?  (I haven’t read other people’s comments yet, so  this may have already been mentioned.) 

  • Daniel Carvalho

    wonderful. This in live eternal
    Thank you.

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  • Light

    Read this book on the airplane back to HI from NY with my sister ashes.  She validated to me that there is a heaven by some things through reading this book.  My other sister read this book to her in the last weeks of her life.  Gave me renewed spirituality – has totally changed my life on so many levels.

  • judy epstein

    i was born and raised in the Weselyan church.   my grandfather raised   me     and he was a pastor.  God bless your son.  i truly believe in him  thank you for your  story  i needed that

  • Richard Sides

    My Wife and I just read the book the book. Very inspiring. Gave a a whole new outlook into heaven. Now I know I want to go there. Made me think of things I have never thought of before. A must read. Richard Sides

  • Dr. Lorraine C. Bailey

    I think the entire nation, especially Connecticut needs this book (Heaven is for Real) to heal and be encouraged. Perhaps you can give a free copy to all the families involved and a percentage of sales to the recovery of the school and community.

  • Dave W. Holland

    Colton said there were animals in Heaven. I have got to know: Will we see our pets in Heaven?

  • Kimchiu

    The boy had this experience of seeing Heaven with facts to support

  • LaVonne Marsh

    I’ve read it twice. I find it wonderful and inspirational !! Colton was chosen to be one of God’s messengers when He answered all of the prayers to save the little boy’s life. When Todd was in that small room, God was truly listening. I look forward to meeting the Burpo family in person!! LaVonne Marsh

  • Lpippen

    if this book is correct, why is Jesus white in his “true” picture?  What about other cultures?  Would Jesus be black, brown or with slanted eyes?  This seems to be a white culture Jesus!

  • Pepsay HAnquan

    what is the author background, is he bias, what is his purpose in writing? any authority? credible?

  • Susan Iseman

    Hi Michael I’m Susan. And yes I have read the book Heaven is for Real. It’s Such a remarkable story. I read about three times. And each of those times I was crying through out the entire story. Such a breathtaking experience on a little boy. Who knew things that we have never heard or knew about what a wonderous experience and adventure that little Colton had. I had was saved by the love of god very recently about almost three years ago because I had demonic forces going through my body ever since I was a baby. Not to mention when I was born. It was crazy really crazy and I couldn’t finish l like a normail kid because my parents thought psycotic and mentaly ill. But that was not true at all. I was scared I was really really scared of Satan for what he had did to me still and deathly scared of it all. Iam an normail person just like everyone one of us I pray and thank god every day for what he had done for me I love him so much praise Jesus. As he dose his working wonders on all of us.Now I am going to work School and defentaly church. Things are fine to. Please email me sometime and we will stay in touch to each other mike my email is cell 1-518-321-6167 take care and many blessings your sister in Christ Jesus love Susan.

  • Todd

    Amazing book that gives us “doubting Thomas’s” new hope that perhaps there is more to this life and thereafter. A quick read that should be passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to the Burpo’s for sharing their absolutely amazing experience with us.

  • Eric H

    Great book. Very moving story. while I am skeptical of a 4 year olds memory and his full account of the incident, I can’t help but be in wonder at the unexplainable occurrences that this child remembered. I, for one, truly believe this child was in heaven and got a glimpse of heaven. It is a great story and it made me more aware of my actions towards others and my loved ones. God Bless

  • Bucky

    “Heaven is for real” How can I get there? Will a practicing Catholic make it. This is truly an inspirational book for everybody.

  • Sarah Carpenter

    I am reading the book .I love it God is the center of my life. I have a little brother who has a deses than makes him not able to see, walk, talk, and hear. his has ben in riley a lot! this book lets me know if anything happens to him he will go to a good place with God. he will not hurt any more and he can run, talk ,and just be a kid. thank you Todd, Colton, Sonja, and Cassie for showing me if you guy can get through all of that then I can get through all of the hospital too. I just love the inspirasion the book has given me. And again THANK YOU :)

  • Kevin

    Mixed feelings. I cannot help but be impressed with the sincerity of Tod Burpo in telling the story of his son Colton. But troublesome questions remain. The idea of revelation beyond what God has given in his word. Is Gabriel sitting on the left hand of the Father? Do angels carry swords to keep Satan out of heaven? A recognition of the ‘right’ portrait of Jesus? Does Mary still love Jesus like a mom? Another thing: those in the Bible given visions and revelations of God and heaven were deeply convicted of their own sin and unworthiness. They were terrified, struck dumb, fell down, in the awful presence of a holy God. I found nothing of this in this book. Just not sure. I empathise with the traumatic experience of the Burpo family in nearly losing their precious son. I have no reason to think this is made up. But I cannot commend the book. Too many loose ends

  • Tootie

    Since Colton was only three, he must have been born again after returning from heaven. When was that?

  • Susan Reed

    The movie “Heaven Is For Real” is out! I saw a pre-screening of it yesterday because I work at Overhead Door. It was a very good movie about a Christian family. See the trailor here:

  • Julie Ganas

    I had a miracle happen at age 8. I was in the backyard of my house and looked up over my roof. Saw a vision of Jesus. He was a human figure inside a circle of clouds. Bright light shown behind him and around him. He floated by as slow as clouds move. I ran to the front of the house to see more clear. I walked on the sidewalk watching this vision moving South. I was playing ball at this 1st moment and pointed to the sky telling my friend, “look it’s Jesus” She could not see what I could. I’m so blessed to have this experience. It was 1977. I did not know how to share this testimony until now. Thanks for sharing Coltons experience. Julie Ganas (Florida)

  • Sharon Gregory

    I just want to know what portion of the proceeds the Burpos keep, and what (if any) go to charity. I truly think a message, like this, should be shared freely. Just sayin’.