Your Favorite Disney Channel Original Movie Can Help You Discover Your New Favorite Book
For Millennials in the U.S., Disney Channel Original Original Movies (DCOMs) were the original ~shared experience~. In honor of Disney's decades of entertaining, low-budget films, I've got some suggestions for what to read next, based on your favorite Disney Channel Original Movie.
Back in the day, no one could wait to check out the latest made-for-TV movie from the House of Mouse. If the recent hype over Descendants 2 is any indication, the DCOM game remains strong today. Everyone has their favorite DCOM, though, and even if you can't enjoy the Disney Channel's sugary-sweet TV movies anymore, you can still read entertaining and thought-provoking books that share some of the same qualities you loved in High School Musical, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, and Halloweentown.
Regretfully, I must inform you that not every DCOM made its way onto this list. If your favorite Disney Channel Original Movie didn't make the cut, please accept my sincerest apologies. There just isn't room to include the 100-plus DCOMs in this article, and so only a fraction of them could be listed below.
Check out the books I think you should read next, based on your favorite Disney Channel Original Movie, and feel free to share your own readalikes for any overlooked DCOMs with me on Twitter.
If You Loved 'Avalon High,' You Should Read 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley
A loose adaptation of Meg Cabot's novel, Avalon High gave the Arthurian legends a modern-day follow-up, in which King Arthur's prophesied return took place in a U.S. high school.
Fans of the film should pick up Marion Zimmer Bradley's feminist Arthurian retelling, The Mists of Avalon, which revolves around Arthur's talented half-sister, Morgaine.
If You Loved 'Brink!,' You Should Read 'Going in Circles' by Pamela Ribon
In Brink!, titular "soul skater" hero Andy Brinker had to sell out to the X-Blade racing company and skate for money to support his family, competing in secret and against his former crew.
Like Brink, Going in Circles heroine Charlotte finds herself unexpectedly competing in skates. After her short marriage winds up on the rocks, Pamela Ribon's protagonist gets dragged into roller derby by her best friend.
If You Loved 'Get a Clue,' You Should Read 'One for the Money' by Janet Evanovich
Get a Clue starred a pre-Freaky Friday Lindsay Lohan as Lexy, a high-school gossip columnist and fashionista, who investigates her teacher's suspicious disappearance with the help of her editor, Jack. Fans of this 2002 DCOM will find a lot to love in Janet Evanovich's One for the Money, which marks lingerie buyer-turned-bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's first appearance.
If You Loved 'Go Figure,' You Should Read 'Wonder Boys' by Michael Chabon
If figure skater Katelin wants to train with a renowned coach, she'll have to disguise herself as a hockey player and attend a prestigious boarding school that her family cannot afford. The enormous pressure of team practices, good grades, and new-girl-in-school dynamics makes up the bulk of the conflict.
Wonder Boys protagonist Grady also has a lot on his plate. His second novel is out of control, his marriage is ending, and his mistress is pregnant. It's a grown-up version of the juggling act you enjoyed watching Katelin perform in Go Figure.
If You Loved 'Gotta Kick It Up!,' You Should Read 'Tiny Pretty Things' by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Before she was in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, America Ferrera starred as Yoli, one of the five Latina dancers at the heart of the 2002 DCOM Gotta Kick It Up!. If you liked watching Yoli, Daisy, Alyssa, Marisol, and Esmeralda blending their heritage into their hobby, you'll love Tiny Pretty Things, an edgy YA novel about three ballerinas in a cutthroat competition for success.
If You Loved 'Halloweentown,' You Should Read 'The Witch's Market' by Mingmei Yip
Starring the late, great Debbie Reynolds as Cromwell-family matriarch Aggie, Halloweentown told the story of Marnie, a 13-year-old misfit who learns that everyone in her family is secretly a witch, and that her grandmother lives in Halloweentown, where witches, werewolves, vampires, skeletons, and other spooky stock characters live in harmony.
Mingmei Yip's The Witch's Market also centers on a witch's descendant — in this case, Chinese-American college professor Eileen — who journeys to the Canary Islands to study folk religion, and finds herself drawn into the world of women who work making and selling charms and spells.
If You Loved 'High School Musical,' You Should Read 'The Interestings' by Meg Wolitzer
High School Musical took Millennials by storm in 2006, introducing us to breakout star Zac Efron as Troy, a high school basketball player who discovers his love of singing and musical theater during his meet cute with Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens).
Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings is what you could imagine a 30-year Wildcats reunion might be like. Six creative teens bond at an elite summer camp in the mid-1970s and maintain their relationships into the modern day, as some succeed incredibly where others have failed.
If You Loved 'Johnny Tsunami,' You Should Read 'Lovecraft Country' by Matt Ruff
In Johnny Tsunami, Disney Channel viewers were treated to the story of a young, Hawaiian surf-bro who finds himself transplanted into a school full of Vermont skiers, who control a mountain contested by snowboarders from a rival institution. Johnny learns to snowboard, and upends his school's mountain dominance from the inside, earning his fellow boarders the right to use the skiers' mountain.
Set during the mid-1950s, Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country also features a protagonist wading into uncertain — and openly hostile — waters. Atticus Turner must travel from Chicago to New England in search of his missing father, who has wound up in the clutches of a slave-owner's descendant with an interest in the arcane.
If You Loved 'The Luck of the Irish,' You Should Read 'Kintu' by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
After losing his lucky coin — the titular Luck of the Irish — Kyle learns that his family are secretly leprechauns, and that they are all doomed to become visibly non-human unless he recovers it.
No easy way out exists for the descendants of Kintu Kidda, however. After Kintu's inconsiderate actions in the 18th century curse his family, each generation must live with their afflictions, or attempt to break through them.
If You Loved 'Miracle in Lane 2,' You Should Read 'Handle with Care' by Jodi Picoult
Based on a true story, Miracle in Lane 2 starred Frankie Muniz as Justin Yoder, the first racer with a disability to compete in the All American Soapbox Derby. Born with spina bifida, Justin eventually competes in a car outfitted with a handbrake, which was later recognized as a legal accommodation by sport officials.
Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care centers on Willow, a young girl with osteogenesis imperfecta, whose parents file a wrongful birth suit against their OB/GYN after their daughter breaks both legs during a family vacation.
If You Loved 'Pixel Perfect,' You Should Read 'Jem and the Holograms' by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell
In Pixel Perfect, Roscoe creates a holographic frontwoman named Loretta to help his best friend's band achieve notoriety and commercial success. The trouble begins when record executives plan to create more holograms that will not be programmed to think and act independently, as Loretta is, but will function as little more than musical dolls.
Based on the 1980s cartoon of the same name, Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell's Jem and the Holograms comic centers on Jerrica Benton, an aspiring musician whose life is forever changed when she meets Synergy, a hologram that her late father programmed, and receives a pair of earrings that can alter her band's appearance using holographic technology.
If You Loved 'Quints,' You Should Read 'Feather Crowns' by Bobbie Ann Mason
Quints focuses on 14-year-old Jamie, whose life as an only child is turned upside-down by the arrival of her quintuplet siblings. As the quints begin to land promotional appearances and their parents become involved in building their brand, Jamie becomes a primary caregiver for her baby brothers and sisters.
Bobbie Ann Mason's 1993 novel Feather Crowns also revolves around a five-child pregnancy, this one in turn-of-the-century Kentucky. Christianna Wheeler doesn't know what will become of her family when two people suddenly become seven, but the promotional options available to them at the time are nearly unthinkable.
If You Loved 'Radio Rebel,' You Should Read '40 Watts from Nowhere' by Sue Carpenter
Based on Danielle Joseph's novel Shrinking Violet, Radio Rebel follows Tara, a shy high-school student who leads a double-life as the eponymous podcaster. Keeping her alter-ego a secret is a full-time job for Tara, who quickly finds herself on the bad side of a stuffy school administration.
Before podcasting made it possible for anyone to be a DJ, there was pirate radio. For a small investment, an individual could run their own local radio station, which is exactly what legal secretary Sue Carpenter did in the mid-1990s. Check out 40 Watts from Nowhere to find out more about her adventures in pirate radio.
If You Loved 'Right on Track,' You Should Read 'The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls' by Anton DiSclafani
Right on Track retold the true story of sisters Erica and Courtney Enders, whose childhood careers in junior drag-racing led them to the top of the National Hot Rod Association Pro Stock World Championships.
In Anton DiSclafani's The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, 15-year-old Thea's well-to-do family sends her away to the titular equestrian school to avoid a family scandal in 1930s Appalachia. But does she have what it takes to race with the best horsewomen on campus?
If You Loved 'A Ring of Endless Light,' You Should Read 'Saints for All Occasions' by J. Courtney Sullivan
A notably lighter-hearted film based on Madeleine L'Engle's book of the same name, A Ring of Endless Light revolves around Vicky Austin, an aspiring writer who feels pulled in different directions at every turn, from her romantic options to her family's expectations, and who finds herself surrounded by the deaths of friends and loved ones.
Similarly, J. Courtney Sullivan's Saints for All Occasions takes on a family adrift, this time a Boston-Irish brood headed by the matronly Nora, who, 50 years earlier, helped her now-cloistered sister out of a scandalous jam. When a sudden death brings the two women back together, they're forced to reckon with their estrangement.
If You Loved 'Smart House,' You Should Read 'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski
Ben doesn't have time to be a real kid, because his mother is gone, and caring for his father and sister eat up all of his time. After he wins a competition to receive a fully-programmed "Smart House," the 13-year-old thinks he's got it made. But a rash decision regarding the Smart House's holographic mother figure could spell disaster for Ben and his family.
The dwelling at the heart of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves may not be as technologically impressive as the one in Smart House, but it's so much more dangerous. The subject of a documentary film no one can find, the Navidson family home begins to undergo a series of inexplicable changes, including the addition of extra rooms and features, and the constant expansion of its inner dimensions.
If You Loved 'Tru Confessions,' You Should Read 'Family Life' by Akhil Sharma
Tru Confessions centers on aspiring filmmaker Tru, whose independent documentary about her autistic twin brother, Eddie, wins a contest and is broadcast on TV. The DCOM follows Tru as she shoots and edits her movie, and comes to terms with the fact that her life is not poorer because of her neuroatypical brother's place in it.
Akhil Sharma's Family Life also deals with complex home dynamics. As their immigration to the U.S. is finally looking up, an Indian family is rocked by uncertainty when its talented eldest son sustains an injury that leaves him permanently disabled and unable to communicate with his parents and brother.
If You Loved 'Up, Up and Away,' You Should Read 'After the Golden Age' by Carrie Vaughan
Being born into a superhero family would probably be pretty exciting, provided you weren't the only member without a special power or ability. In Up, Up and Away, 14-year-old Scott Marshall comes from a long line of super-powered heroes, but he doesn't have any traits that set him apart from the rest of his classmates. Thankfully, Scott discovers that he doesn't need to be a superhero to make a positive change in the world.
Like Scott, After the Golden Age's heroine doesn't have the powers of her superhero parents, either. But when the city decides that the easiest way to lock away its most fearsome supervillain is on charges of tax fraud, it's up to the top accountant, Celia West, to save the day.
If You Loved 'Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior,' You Should Read 'Silver Phoenix' by Cindy Pon
Eponymous heroine Wendy Wu is just a normal teenage girl before a young monk shows up to tell her that her destiny entails fighting against an ancient evil, just like her ancestors did centuries ago. There's just one problem: Wendy doesn't want to be a homecoming warrior; she wants to be homecoming queen.
In Cindy Pon's debut novel Silver Phoenix, Ai Ling, a young girl without marriage prospects, discovers that she can peer into other people's minds, listen to their thoughts, and watch their dreams unfold. She also learns that she has a big job ahead of her: destroying the soul-stealing evil that lives inside the emperor's palace.
If You Loved 'Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century,' You Should Read 'Binti' by Nnedi Okorafor
Who can forget Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century? This 1999 DCOM focused on an unlucky space-station resident who gets sent to live on Earth, only to discover that her family and her home are in mortal peril.
Binti also follows a young woman on her first space-faring journey, but this time the heroine is headed into the depths of the galaxy, not being exiled from it. Along the way, her transport is invaded by a hostile alien force, and she must figure out a way to make it to her destination without endangering everyone on the planet.