Watch It, Stream It, Read It | High School Musical Songs as Books


What team? Wildcats! If you love Disney’s High School Musical as much as we do, then check out this list of reading recommendations based on some of our favorite songs from the movies. From queer romances to heart-pounding thrillers, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Just remember: once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. Go team! 

1. “The Start of Something New” | Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Lyrics: “I never believed in / What I couldn’t see / I never opened my heart / To all the possibilities” 

Quinn is a list-maker. From the days she’s ugly-cried, to all the boys she’d like to kiss, her lists keep her sane, letting her face her fears on paper rather than in real life. But then her journal goes missing and an anonymous Instagram account blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears if she doesn’t want her lists ending up online. Desperate, Quinn teams up with the last known person to have her journal, but when she starts falling for him, she realizes that living in the moment isn’t as scary as she once believed. Because sometimes, starting something new may not be so bad after all.

2. “Get’cha Head in the Game” | She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Lyrics: “A second chance / Gotta grab it and go / Maybe this time / We’ll hit the right notes”

Did someone say enemies-to-lovers? This sapphic rom-com follows the fake-dating scheme between high school nemeses Scottie and Irene. While still reeling from her recent break-up, basketball star Scottie gets into a car accident with head cheerleader Irene, which forces them to carpool and spend lots of time together. Eventually, Irene is pulled into Scottie’s plan to get back at her ex, using Irene’s status as captain of the cheerleading squad to her advantage. At the end of the day, all’s fair in love and basketball. 

3. “Stick to the Status Quo” | The [Un]popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

Lyrics: “Stick to the stuff you know / If you wanna be cool, follow one simple rule / Don’t mess with the flow, no, no / Stick to the status quo”

With a congressman for a father, transmasculine teen Mark Adams knows that sticking to the status quo is essential when climbing the political ladder. So, to protect his father’s career, Mark just pretends to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when a fellow student spewing dangerous rhetoric runs for student body president, he decides to campaign too. As people try to silence, bully, and out him at every turn, Mark realizes that running for school office in a town you didn’t grow up in is more than a little difficult. Political intrigue, OwnVoices rep, and a dash of romance collide in Jasper Sanchez’s much-anticipated YA debut.

4. “We’re All in This Together” | Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

Lyrics: “We’re all in this together / And it shows / When we stand / Hand in hand / Make our dreams come true” 

It’s safe to say that Leah Johnson’s sophomore YA romance is one our most anticipated releases of 2021. After the fallout from her latest breakup, Olivia is ready to start fresh, and spending a music-filled weekend with her best friend sounds like the perfect solution. About to start college with no idea who she wants to be, Toni has just lost her musician-turned-roadie father. Amidst grief, visiting the same festival that changed his life seems like a great way to figure out her own. When Olivia and Toni meet at Farmland Music and Arts Festival, they’re both looking for answers—and they may just find them, together.

5. “What Time is It” | Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud

Lyrics: “What time is it? / Party time / That’s right, say it loud” 

Simone Thibodeaux has spent her life living by her strict Haitian parents’ rules. In the final days of her senior year, she’s decided to break them all and end high school in style! Accompanied by her friends, Amita and Kira, who are stuck in similar situations, they come up with a Senior Year Bucket List made up of everything they weren’t able to do before—like picking their own prom date. However, as they start checking off activities, they find themselves at odds with each other and their parents, making Simone question her path to freedom and which rules are worth breaking. 

6. “Fabulous” | Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Lyrics: “I need something inspiring / To help me get along / I need a little fabulous / Is that so wrong?”

Genderqueen teen Carey Parker is ambitious and talented. They know they have the vocal power to bring down any house, but with all the turmoil circling their grandmother’s dementia and the discrimination they face at school, it’s hard for Carey to let their inner diva out. Carey desperately wants the role of Elphaba in their school’s upcoming musical. So, with the support of Cris, a singer, guitarist, and possible love interest, they audition. But stepping into the spotlight also means confronting bigotry from those around them. Carey and their friends must stand up for their rights if they want the chance to shine onstage—and in life. Be sure to pick up Salvatore’s triumphant and affirmative story that is sure to bring out the Sharpay in all of us! 

7. “Work This Out” | A Phở Love Story by Loan Le

Lyrics: “We’ve got to work, work / To work this out / We’ll make things right / The sun will shine”

Sometimes Linh Mai and Bao Nguyen feel like all they ever do is work. Both teens work at their parents’ phở restaurants across the street from each other, which might have made them best friends—if their parents didn’t hate each other. Linh and Bao have barely spoken two words to each other in their lives, but when a chance encounter brings them together, sparks fly. Soon, they’re desperately trying to figure out how they can work it out and make things right by solving the mystery of their parents’ feud once and for all. From the kitchen where the Wildcats sing this upbeat number, to the restaurants of A Phở Love Story, make sure not to read this book (or watch this movie) on an empty stomach!

8. “Bet On It” | The Knockout by Sajni Patel

Lyrics: “Everybody’s always talkin’ at me / Everybody’s tryin’ to get in my head / I wanna listen to my own heart talkin’ / I need to count on myself instead”

Like Troy Bolton, seventeen-year-old Muay Thai champion Kareena Thakkar is torn between who she wants to be and who everyone else expects her to be. Kareena earns the chance to compete in the US Muay Thai open, which could land her a spot on the first-ever Olympic team—if only those around her didn’t consider the sport “too rough for girls.” But if she’s going to upset the whole Indian community, she might as well enjoy herself and go for something grand. The Knockout chronicles Kareena’s struggles with her cultural identity, sexism, romance, and the judgement she faces in pursuing her passion. Her perseverance could be history-in-the-making, and who better than Kareena to knock out the challenge? 

9. “Now or Never” | Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Lyrics: “This is the last time to get it right / This is the last chance to make it or not, yeah / We got to show what we’re all about” 

If you haven’t already picked up Angeline Boulley’s instant #1 NYT bestseller, then reading Firekeeper’s Daughter should become a top priority. After witnessing a shocking murder, Ojibwe teen Daunis Fontaine must go undercover as part of a criminal investigation. But just like “Now or Never,” the clock is ticking as deaths start piling up and sinister secrets come to light. Will Daunis track down those responsible and save her community before it’s too late? Read this groundbreaking OwnVoices YA thriller to find out!

10. “Can I Have This Dance” | Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Lyrics: “Take my hand, take a breath / Pull me close and take one step / Keep your eyes locked on mine / And let the music be your guide”

In our humble opinion, this is the most romantic number of all three movies, which is why it pairs perfectly with Nicola Yoon’s eagerly anticipated summer release, Instructions for Dancing. Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love, especially after she discovers she has a miraculous ability to see how any kissing couple’s relationship will end. But when she begins taking dance lessons from—and falling for—an intriguing boy named X, Evie is forced to question everything she thought she knew about love. With her heart on the line, is love truly worth the risk?

11. “The Boys Are Back” | Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Lyrics: “The boys are back, gonna do it again / Gonna wake up the neighborhood”

The boys really are back in the follow-up to Adib Khorram’s award-winning debut, Darius the Great is Not Okay. After visiting his family in Iran last spring, Darius Kellner has everything he’s ever wanted: a good relationship with his dad; weekly Skype calls with his best friend, Sohrab; an internship at his favorite tea shop; a spot on the soccer team; and a boyfriend. Then his grandmothers come to town, and Darius starts questioning everything—what if he deserves better? Return to the world of Darius Kellner for nuanced explorations of mental health, identity, and first love. 

12. “High School Musical” | The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

Lyrics: “All together, makes it better / Memories that last forever / I want the rest of my life to / Feel just like a / High School Musical” 

Who doesn’t want their life to feel like a high school musical? Well, maybe not Beaconville High School’s production of Les Misérables because there just might be a curse on their theatre department. After a catastrophic end to her the opening night of the fall play—and to her last relationship—stage manager extraordinaire Melody McIntyre is determined to do whatever it takes to make the spring musical a success. Even if that means swearing off of love, since the whole crew is convinced Melody’s disastrous love life has been influencing the theatre’s curse. But when sweet, funny, and amazing actress Odile Rose enters the scene, Melody realizes that it might be a bit harder to stay on script than she’d originally thought. This high school musical will definitely make memories that last forever!

Bonus: “Wondering” | Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Lyrics: “Seems like a part of me will always have to lose / Every single time I have to choose / Swore that it felt right, but was I wrong? / Is this where I’m supposed to be at all?”

What’s the next best thing to High School Musical? Disney+’s High School Musical the Musical the Series, of course! We just couldn’t resist including a song from this fantastic series, and what a song! Inspiring, passionate, and super fun to sing, Ashlyn and Nini’s power-ballad is one of our favorite songs of the series for good reason. It also pairs really well with Liselle Sambury’s highly-anticipated debut that we just can’t wait to get our hands on. In this dark urban fantasy, everything comes down to young witch Voya Thomas’s choice. When she fails the trial that would have given her powers, Voya’s ancestor presents her with an opportunity for a second chance—only if Voya agrees to kill her first love. Except, Voya actually has to find someone to love first, or else her entire family will get their magic taken away. Caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline, Voya must decide what’s right, what’s wrong, and what she’s willing to sacrifice if she wants to appease her ancestor in time. 

PRR Assistant Directors, Wendy Waltrip & Hannah Miller; PRR Writer, Jackie Balbastro