The Baby Sitters Club, by Ann M. Martin

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on September 29, 2008

baby-sitters-ClubA very long series originally penned by Ann M. Martin (the first 35 books anyway) lasted 14 years, much longer than average reading span than that of it’s target age group. I believe I got started in on the series around #12, found myself going back to the first book and catching up. The only reason I had started reading it was because I complained to the elementary school librarian that I was bored, she reached behind her back and pulled a random book off the shelf and said “Here! You’ll like this.” Lucky for her, she was right.

I had no idea that Ann M. Martin didn’t actually write the entire series, but it does make sense. How else was a new book being pumped out every month by Scholastic? I just thought the woman was really dedicated. Good thing no one revealed this to me at that age. I honestly think I would have stopped reading, since at that age I thought that putting your name on something you didn’t really write was cheating and dishonest. I still think that, though with a little more understanding on marketing, branding and catering to a readership. Try explaining that to a 10 year old. It’s like finding out about Santa Claus.

However, the series was inspiring and full of those little things in life you’re supposed to learn about and even some stuff that’s a little more advanced. Like running a small business. Scheduling your time. Knowing when to call 911.  Making choices and taking hold of opportunities. And even some advice about dating and boys.

It was a series that created a full and complete world that you could lose yourself in and almost imagine yourself as one of the club members. The characters were diverse and unique, yet had factors that made it possible to identify with. You could almost say they’re the Sex and the City ladies as young girls growing up. Maybe this is why I like Sex and the City so much.

The regular series ended up being 131 books long with many super specials, mysteries and other additions. To read every single book under the Baby Sitters Club name is a feat in itself. I’m sure there are several young ladies who have achieved this. These are probably the same gals that had opening day tickets for the movie.

All in all, each book was a lot like a sitcom. A problem or event occurred there was a misunderstanding, an accident or an argument, but by the end, everything was OK again. Periodically the story lines did deal with some heavier issues like racism, being held back a grade in school, moving, divorce and step siblings. Through this series, young ladies were shown a lot of different life issues that they may not experience on their own and get a taste for while others who were going through the same thing could identify and perhaps find some solace.

But like all good things, they come to an end. The baby sitters graduate from middle school after 14 years. I guess it was about time! (1986-2000.)

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