Books + Comics

Literally the Best Thing Ever: The Baby-sitters Club

Looking after children wasn’t the point.

The Baby-sitters Club is a long series of books about a group of girls who… babysit. When I was younger, I really, really wanted to be a member of the BSC, despite the fact that I didn’t really like kids. Babysitting wasn’t the point. The point was that the BSC was made up of the coolest girls EVER. And they got to do the coolest things, like travel to Europe and star in ballets and stay the same age for years and years (seriously, they had like two Halloweens and six summer vacations and never made it to high school). Being in the Baby-sitters Club meant you had it all.

The club started off with four girls: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey. It grew to about 10 or 15 members in the end, if you count temporary members. Each character had her own UNIQUE personality, complete with her own hobbies (softball, ballet, horseback riding), quirks (banging gavels, hiding candy), and clothing style (more on that later).

Also, quite a few of the girls and/or children suffered from TERRIBLE LIFE-THREATENING DISEASES like diabetes and asthma. This is not an exaggeration in the slightest. If Stacey ate a chocolate bar, she was pretty much doomed to go on a sugar binge and end up in the hospital. This was mentioned in every book, because diabetes was the worst thing that could ever happen to someone. Unless you were Abby, whose love of sports threatened her life every day because of her asthma attacks. Or Anna, whose diagnosis of scoliosis meant a horrifying future of being caged in metal undergarments. I think these were actually supposed to be lessons on diversity and overcoming challenges, but they only succeeded in making me want a disease of my own so I could be doted on by my caring friends. And then I was diagnosed with asthma and no one cared because in real life every other kid has asthma and it’s actually no big deal. Dreams crushed.

But back to the girls. They were awesome. How awesome? Let’s look at Claudia, the most flamboyant member of the group. She was an ARTIST and she had an amazing sense of style, so amazing that eventually the internet was created just to have on it a blog called What Claudia Wore. She was also addicted to candy and hid it in every corner of her room (leading to lots of sad moments for Stacey, who had to munch on pretzels while Claudia passed out the goodies). And she was bad at spelling, which is notable because many chapters started off with journal entries, and Claudia’s were just riddled with errors. I’m sure at some point she misspelled her own name.

Not everyone could reach Claudia-levels of uniqueness; some of the girls filled well-worn niches from stereotypical high school life. There’s Kristy, the tomboy. Mary Anne, the shy one. Mallory, the bookworm. Etc. The crazy thing was that they were all friends. Best friends. Sure, there were fights and I think I remember the club breaking up at one point, but it never lasted. Because if there was a True Love version of friendships, these girls had it.

They also dealt with real-life issues, apart from creator Ann M. Martin’s weird obsession with chronic illnesses. Several of the members had divorced parents and blended families. Mary Anne and Abby had both lost parents, and Claudia lost her beloved grandmother early in the series. They dealt with racism and child abuse and the death of a teenage friend. Sometimes these issues were comically heavy-handed, but they were there, and they made The Baby-sitter’s Club feel somewhat real.

And through their lives, their successful businesses and jet-setting adventures, I was able to dream. Even as a 13-year-old, I could be successful and have awesome friends and amazing experiences. Because I was only 13 for 12 months, some of that had to happen a little later, but it did.

If you haven’t read these books (or one of the many spin-off series), get to the library right now and pick one up. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll start drawing little hearts over your i’s, because that’s what babysitters do. ♦

29 Comments

  • kalika_ma November 2nd, 2011 11:04 PM

    OMG yes. I was obsessed with this series and read them all religiously when I was 11-14. I knew this post was going to be about the BBC and I refreshed the page a bunch of times until it was posted.

  • emilyelizabeth November 2nd, 2011 11:09 PM

    okay…i LOVE what claudia wore!
    rookie, you are, literally, the best thing ever!

  • Ruby B. November 2nd, 2011 11:11 PM

    Oooh, I love the BSC so much! <3

    Ruby
    therubylotus.wordpress.com

  • Ratty November 2nd, 2011 11:12 PM

    I love the BSC! In fact I’m collecting the whole series at the moment, even though I’m a 26 year old girl (woman?)! Just collecting for memories sake, not for reading, and maybe so I can force any future children to read them all as well. Claudia and Stacey were the coolest by far!

  • definatalie November 2nd, 2011 11:16 PM

    I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 17 and I figured out my symptoms because of BSC. Thanks Stacey!

  • norienoire November 2nd, 2011 11:27 PM

    I never read these, but I always loved the Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Which actually, now that I think about it was pretty girl-gangy and amazing to the 11/12 year old me. And from what I can recall, I think a few of them ended up on a banned book list, which of course made them all the more appealing.

  • aislingvoyage November 2nd, 2011 11:40 PM

    Oh, I used to ADORE Claudia. I think she was “quirky” before I even knew the word existed.Thanks for making me discover “What Claudia Wore”, I used to imagine EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of her outfits as described in the book. It’s glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • amandamarie November 2nd, 2011 11:44 PM

    Thank you so much for featuring the Baby Sitter’s Club! It was absolutely my favorite series growing up, and I’m so happy to know that I’m not the only that was obsessed!

  • lidaenab November 2nd, 2011 11:56 PM

    Oh my god YES, the Baby-Sitters Club is listed in the dictionary under “literally the best thing ever” NO JOKE.
    I was so obsessed, I swear I owned nearly every book. THERE ARE STILL SOME I’M LOOKING FOR. And the spin off series’!
    Was there anyone who DIDN’T cry after the fire at Mary Jane’s house?

  • Charlotte November 3rd, 2011 1:47 AM

    Claudia Kishi will forever and always be my style icon…I remember discovering ‘What Claudia Wore” a year or two ago and jumping for joy.

  • gogobionicgirl November 3rd, 2011 5:15 AM

    I still have my babysitters club necklace :)

  • karysrhiann November 3rd, 2011 7:18 AM

    Oh my goodness, this brings back SO many wonderful memories. I sent this link to my fellow BSC loving friends right away! Now I wish I’d kept all my old copies… might have to hunt some down on ebay (along with Goosebumps, damn you Rookie!) Also whatclaudiawore is genius, I’m addicted!

  • oriGINAlity95 November 3rd, 2011 9:06 AM

    When I was little I LIVED for going to a small local library’s barbarian basement where all the books are 25 cents. They had a gazillion BSC books for the takings and boy did I take! Every time I went I cam out with a nice big stack – mostly the “specials”… they were my favorite kind. I can relive the Disney World one over and over, it’s filled up that desire for never going myself. ;) I think I jumped the gun on these books, I started reading them in like 3rd grade (I’m 16 now) but I recently donated my large collection – not the specials, because those are forever MINE- to the school library where I volunteer. And am slowly but surely converting the girls to BSC fans. Gotta spread the love! Right?

  • Lascelles November 3rd, 2011 9:35 AM

    Raina Telgemeier has the best spinoff.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJc7TlYKIus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGa0N4eMWKg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOzQ9wv3X_0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9vhIrasG2A
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSB-Hw2xz5Q

  • giov November 3rd, 2011 9:50 AM

    it’s funny how I totally bond over the babysitter club with American strangers at parties, impressing them by naming the members of the club and remembering their adventure. nerd power! my favourite was mallory! oh I miss being 9!

  • blanche November 3rd, 2011 1:33 PM

    love bsc. so much. also, am i the only one who read the anastasia krupnik books? she was also super rad!

  • TheBadassMuppet November 3rd, 2011 4:44 PM

    I loved these book from ages 7-10. Then I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and they became really, really annoying. Stacey’s medical routine didn’t actually make any sense (NO sugar, but plenty of carbs? having to count CALORIES?), and since most the other girls had grown up with them too, I was constantly accused of “cheating,” because “Stacey can’t eat that!” To be honest, I still resent how the series made it seem totally okay to reduce a person to hir medical condition(s). Scars, I have ‘em.

    That said, I still appreciate California Diaries. Maybe the ghostwriters are just more to my liking, but I think it’s because they headed into more dark, tawdry, Sweet Valley High-like territory.

  • cuss1ngcunt November 3rd, 2011 6:36 PM

    Omg! Sooooo nostalgic :)

  • celedon November 3rd, 2011 8:05 PM

    I’m a type one diabetic, and I used to love this series because there was a diabetic and because i always wanted to be a diabetic.

  • popova261 November 4th, 2011 5:56 AM

    I tore through the series when I was around 9 or 10 (my favorite is where they road trip across the U.S.), and I absolutely couldn’t wait to be 13–these girls seemed so amazingly grown-up to me!

  • karysrhiann November 4th, 2011 6:07 AM

    I think next up should be Literally the best thing ever: Sweet Valley High

  • Pashupati November 4th, 2011 8:45 PM

    I think I really liked these once, but threw my books away as I was ashamed because… it was too “girly”. Yep, I’m a tad ashamed to have thought it was a bad thing that could bring me negative happenings, but if people are aggressive (or whatever) against me because I’m/my hobbies (or whatever) are too “girly” in some way, these are bad people. Then, I shouldn’t be ashamed, because it was something I had to go through.
    I just remember one character’s penpals’ house burning, and home-”library”, and reunions in bedrooms with phonecalls.

  • BillieJane November 5th, 2011 1:21 AM

    I loved these books.
    I sort of run something similar. I have so many tutoring/babysitting clientele. So whenever I’m double or triple-booked, I enlist 1 of like…4 friends.
    Hahaha my life revolves around the children I take care of.

  • amelia November 7th, 2011 8:44 AM

    i wasn’t old enough to read the original Babysitter’s Club books, but i DID read the babysitter’s little sister books, which was about Kristy’s step- sister (or was it half sister?), Karen. She was eight. there were stacks of those books, too- i remember always trying to get the ones with the highest numbers, #214 and so on, because she was older- i think she started out six.

  • leelabee November 15th, 2011 4:06 AM

    I loved the BSC and grew up reading them (i’m 26) and i still read the books all the time. Claudia was the one i wanted to be like but i was really more like Mary Anne and Mallory. Great post you guys.

  • tellyawhat November 15th, 2011 5:14 PM

    Baby-Sitters Little Sister was where it was at! Reading below your grade level will never get old. Oh Karen, always getting into trouble.

  • whatalovelytime November 22nd, 2011 2:30 AM

    YES! Claudia was always my favorite. I loved being able to relate to a character and it made me feel like maybe there was many other girls out there who were inspired and driven by creativity of varying artistic endeavors. Thank you for informing me about What Claudia Wore, so excited! You dont know how many young teenaged girls that Ive mentioned this series to that have never even heard of it, which is such a bummer to me. Hopefully since we will clearly all be forcing our children to read the BSC books the next generation will be obsessed too. Also I would be lying if I said I dont still watch the half hour movies from time to time. And yes, Sweet Valley High next please! Especially since Francine Pascal just released a “Ten Years Later” book! (Ive read poor reviews on it but still really want to read it myself.)

  • whatalovelytime November 22nd, 2011 3:01 AM

    AND The Unicorn Club series too. Remember that time when they got trapped in the mall? Basically there just really needs to be a Francine Pascal post.

  • empressm November 29th, 2011 7:59 AM

    OMG, my sis emailed me this link, and I seriously LOVED the BSC series. (Though now I’m seriously getting too old for it. But I really, really, luv ‘em.)