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Texas TAYSHAS Reading List

The object of the Tayshas project is to motivate young adults to become lifelong readers and to participate in the community of readers in Texas. The Tayshas High School Reading List Committee coordinates activities associated with the Tayshas program, a reading incentive program designed for young adults in Texas, grades 9–12, who are encouraged to read books for pleasure from a selected reading list prepared by the Tayshas Committee.

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      Not Hungry

      by Kate Karyus Quinn

      Dec 2019

      Hi-Lo Mature

      2021
      June is fat. June also has an eating disorder, but no one sees. When she doesn't eat, her friends and family think they see a fat girl on a diet, not someone starving herself. When June's secret is found out by Toby, the new boy next door, she is panicked. Then she learns he also has a secret. Everyone has their own little lies.

      Frankly in Love

      by David Yoon

      Dec 2019

      High-Interest High Plus

      2021
      High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo—his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance—“Date Korean”—which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful—and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love—or himself—at all.

      The Downstairs Girl

      by Stacey Lee

      Nov 2019

      History High

      2020 Top Ten
      By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

      Author’s note.

      Patron Saints of Nothing

      by Randy Ribay

      Oct 2019

      Mature Young Adults Plus

      2020 Top Ten
      Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

      Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth—and the part he played in it.

      As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

      Author’s note. Recommended reading.

      Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

      by Guillermo del Toro

      Oct 2019

      High-Interest High Plus

      2020
      This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

      Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

      Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.

      Dear America: Young Readers' Edition: The Story of an Undocumented Citizen

      by Jose Antonio Vargas

      Oct 2019

      Biography Middle Plus

      2020
      In this young readers' adaptation of his adult memoir Dear America, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas tells his story, in light of the 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in America.

      Jose Antonio Vargas was only twelve years old when he was brought to the United States from the Philippines to live with his grandparents. Unbeknownst to him, he was sent to the U.S. illegally. When he applied for a learner’s permit, he learned the truth, and spent the next almost twenty years keeping his immigration status a secret. Hiding in plain sight, he was writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country. Only after publicly admitting his undocumented status—risking his career and personal safety—was Vargas able to live his truth.

      This book asks questions like, How do you define who is an American? How do we decide who gets to be a citizen? What happens to those who enter the U.S. without documentation? By telling his personal story, and presenting facts without easy answers, Jose Antonio Vargas sheds light on an issue that couldn’t be more relevant.

      Brave Face: A Memoir

      by Shaun David Hutchinson

      Sep 2019

      Biography High Plus

      2020
      “I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

      Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

      A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

      Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

      Content warnings and resources. Preface. Author’s note.

      The Kingdom

      by Jess Rothenberg

      Sep 2019

      Fantasy/Science Fiction High Plus

      2021
      Welcome to the Kingdom, a dazzling fantasy theme park where “happily ever after” is not just a promise, but a rule. Home to genetically engineered F.E.S. (formerly extinct species) that roam the park, the park employs cutting-edge technology to make dreams come alive.

      Ana is one of seven beautiful “Fantasists”—half-human, half-android princesses whose only purpose is to entertain Kingdom visitors. Counter to her programming, she begins to experience emotions and feelings…even allowing herself to fall in love for the first time.

      But the fairytale ends when Ana is accused of murder. Told through court testimony, interrogations, and lush flashbacks, The Kingdom blends the futuristic appeal of Westworld with the twists and turns of a true-crime thriller.

      Refugee 87

      by Ele Fountain

      Sep 2019

      Advanced Readers

      2021
      Shif has a happy life, unfamiliar with the horrors of his country's regime. He is one of the smartest boys in school, and feels safe and loved in the home he shares with his mother and little sister, right next door to his best friend. But the day that soldiers arrive at his door, Shif knows that he will never be safe again—his only choice is to run. Facing both unthinkable cruelty and boundless kindness, Shif bravely makes his way towards a future he can barely imagine.

      Based on real experiences and written in spare, powerful prose, this gripping debut illustrates the realities faced by countless young refugees across the world today. Refugee 87 is a story of friendship, kindness, hardship, survival, and—above all—hope.

      Author’s note.

      With the Fire On High

      by Elizabeth Acevedo

      Aug 2019

      High-Interest High Plus

      2020 Top Ten
      With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for their trip to Spain—and certainly can’t follow her dreams of working in a real kitchen someday. But even with all the rules she has for her life—and all the rules everyone expects her to play by—once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

      Let Me Hear a Rhyme

      by Tiffany Jackson

      Aug 2019

      Mystery High Plus

      2020
      Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.


      Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.


      Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

      Dig.

      by A.S. King

      Aug 2019

      Mature Young Adults Plus

      2021
      The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account—wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren. “Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamaica between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a double-wide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings’ precious suburban respectability begins to spread, the far-flung grandchildren gradually find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.
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