A new children’s book series launched April 28 in Houston, and it’s unlike any other on the market.  

According to Houston native Doug Gaston, his “Believe! Books” series is about more than just books. Each edition in the series will have a designated charitable cause to receive the proceeds, and Gaston said he wants to “help turn this generation of young people into true difference makers.”

At a book signing ceremony April 28 at the Houston branch of the Texas County library, Gaston and illustrator, Landon Kemp, introduced and signed copies of “Believe!,” the first edition in the series, which is designed to deliver a message of encouragement, inspiration and assurance.

After signing dozens of copies, the duo read the book to kids in attendance, with Gaston doing the narration and Kemp providing the voices of many of the book’s characters. Gaston said his books are built on the premise that “each and every life is exceptional, valuable and eternal.”

“The subjects will cover all kinds of different things,” he said, “but the goal will always be to teach a good lesson, lift kids up and have them keeping good, positive things in their hearts and minds.”

Gaston – a 1986 graduate of Houston High School –  said the children’s book idea has been on his heart for a long time.

“‘Believe!’ was written 12 years ago,” he said. “I pitched it to a few publishers who were interested, but didn’t have the same vision I had for the books and the proceeds benefiting charitable causes, and a few others that just weren’t interested. And I couldn’t find an illustrator who could make the pictures look the way I wanted them to look.

“I got inspired to try again a couple of years ago and found a book company I really liked because their vision about these books aligns with mine.”

Kemp had also been struggling to find the right project and to begin a career as an illustrator. Gaston’s sister was working for Kemp’s father in Bolivar, and the connection between author and illustrator followed.

“She said ‘he’s really good; you really need to look at his work,’” Gaston said. “I was trying out illustrators all over the country, but then I saw some stuff from Landon and it was so great. I sent him the ‘Believe!’ story and asked him to pick a couple of characters to draw.

“It was like a miracle; it was exactly they way I had seen the characters in my mind all those years ago – only better.”

Believe book reading

“Believe” books series author Doug Gaston, left, and illustrator Landon Kemp read their first book to children April 28 at the Texas County Library’s Houston branch.

Gaston has contracted for three books. The second – “Turtle or Tortoise?” – is already complete and will be published within a couple of months.

Kemp is autistic and all proceeds from the first book will be donated to Autism Speaks in honor of he and his family.

“He’s going to be famous some day soon,” Gaston said. “He’s an amazing person who does amazing work, and he has really given a special magic to these characters.”

Now an author, Gaston was already an associate circuit judge in Texas County for Missouri’s 25th judicial circuit, a volunteer firefighter for both Houston fire departments, founder and director of a statewide college and high school competition called “The Constitution Revolution” and an active member of multiple organizations that assist young people.

The two programs Gaston works with that assist area young people are Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Texas County B.E.L.I.E.V.E.S (a foundation that began 12 years ago as well). He and Kemp spoke about the “Believe! Books” series at an assembly at Houston Elementary School prior to the book signing.

“Every child is created with a mighty purpose to fulfill in this life,” Gaston said, “and my greatest prayer is that these books will be a small step for them on that beautiful journey to create a magical, exceptional and victorious life.”

Books in Doug Gaston’s “Believe Books” series are available online BelieveKidsBooks.com, Amazon, and soon on Barnes and Noble. They will be sold locally at Little House Gifts and Dry Creek Marketplace. 

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