Christian singer David Archuleta, who first came to fame as a teen in 2008 when he was the runner-up on American Idol’s Season 7, is far from the first music celebrity to pen a children’s book encouraging kids to have faith. But Archuleta’s My Little Prayer (Bushel & Peck, Oct.) has a unique backstory.
In the book, a little boy prays to be chosen for the soccer team. He isn’t. God had an unexpected answer for that prayer: The boy makes a new friend, instead. It’s a suitable-for-kids version of the same message Archuleta had to learn for himself, he tells PW, only his prayer wasn’t about a soccer team.
In life, Archuleta, 30, says he has struggled for years with his sexual identity. Then one night he dreamt that God answered his plea for clarity by commanding him to wake up and write a song of faith, patience, and trust in God’s plan for him. He called it, My Little Prayer, and sang it on a 2016 televised holiday special sponsored by his denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This June, Archuleta posted on Instagram and told Good Morning America that he’s come to accept God’s unexpected answer to his own prayer to find his identity. He now considers himself part of the LGBTQ community. He describes himself as likely, but not certainly, bisexual. He has dated women but no men and says he is saving himself for marriage. Archuleta tells PW, “I have learned to love myself the way I am, the way God created me. I still have questions and I don’t know what to make of my future, but I can balance this with my faith in God and Jesus Christ. And I want to help more people feel they are not alone, to feel joy and accept themselves for who they are. My Little Prayer is still the song I sing to myself if I’m ever feeling down and lonely.”
That’s exactly what Bushel & Peck publishers, David and Stephanie Miles, heard in Archuleta’s song, David Miles tells PW. “We can all relate to a song about disappointments in life, moments when we pray for help and guidance.” They sought out Archuleta and proposed his song become a children’s book. They had a storyboard developed with illustrator Sara Ugolotti, who has worked with them since the publishing house launched in 2018. “It shows a boy who wants to belong. With the images and words, we sense his deeper need and we show a better way to answer that need,” he says. Now, the book is selling well on pre-orders, boosted by a contest where the prize is Zoom access to an online concert by the singer and a personal meet-and-greet with Archuleta, also via Zoom.
The Miles couple follows the same denomination as Archuleta -- one that is doctrinally opposed to same-sex marriage. But Archuleta's public tie to the LGBTQ Community is not an issue for them. David Miles says, “We think David’s openness about his challenges and struggles, his honesty and vulnerability, are terrific. I can’t think of a better ambassador for his message about faith and trust. At the core of My Little Prayer is a universal message. We all come to the wall of faith where we have to trust God and learn to believe his path would be better than the one we would think of for ourselves.”