The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin have been adored by generations of kids since the publication of the first book in the series, Kristy’s Big Day, over 30 years ago in 1986. Just writing that makes me feel very old. As a kid I loved going to the local library every week to stock up on new books, especially during the summers when, at least in my small town, there wasn’t much else to do but read (plus reading outside in the summer is the best).
Over 200 books were published in the series from 1986 to 2000, some written entirely by Martin and others with assistance from ghostwriters, though Martin still provided the outlines and edited the books. Over 176 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide. Much of the inspiration for the stories and characters came from the author’s own life, including years of babysitting in her youth and working as a teacher as an adult.
In the 1990s there was a Baby-Sitters Club TV show and a movie. The books were so popular, there even was a BSC board game (and yes, my sister and I used to play it, although I didn’t like it as much as the Sweet Valley High board game). You can find the game on Amazon and eBay.
The 2010s began a new era of the BSC. A prequel novel, The Summer Before, was released in 2010 and gave fans a look at the lives of their favourite babysitters prior to forming the club. You can borrow it from VPL. At that time, Scholastic also reissued the first seven books in the series with a few updates (no more Walkmans and VCRs!). The first four BSC graphic novels, which were published in 2006 and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, were reissued in colour in 2015, with an additional four adapted by Gale Galligan starting in 2017. There’s more to come, including graphic novel adaptations of the BSC spinoff Baby-Sitters Little Sister starring Kristy’s stepsister, Karen. The first, Karen’s Witch, is already out.
Of course, the latest development in BSC news is the recent Netflix TV series that was released on July 3. As a fan of the books, I worried the updates made to bring the story into the present day would affect the storytelling. Would Claudia still have her oh-so-important private landline? Would Kristy sit in her director’s chair? And whither the kid kits?
I’m happy to say that the while the show makes a number of changes they are largely positive, and the characters still feel like the same girls book readers knew and loved back in the day. This article from Elle.com runs through the major changes, but among the most important is that the series is now more inclusive. Mary Anne, played by Malia Baker, is biracial, and California girl Dawn is now Latinx, played by Xochitl Gomez. Storylines touch on race, socioeconomic status, feminism, and gender identity. Pop culture references such as Reddit, Etsy, and The Handmaid’s Tale bring the story into 2020 without intruding on the plot. The show brings back memories of being a kid for adults like me, but there is plenty for today’s tweens who may be new to the series to enjoy.
VPL has a number of BSC books available in our collection. If your kids have read them all and you would like some additional reading suggestions, here are some recommendations:
When she finds an old copy of Kristy’s Great Idea in a box of free books, Malia gets an idea of her own: recruit her best friends Dot and Bree to form a babysitting service so they can pay for a fabulous joint birthday party. None of them has any babysitting experience, nor do they particularly like children, but they won’t let those little details get in the way. When Malia’s older sister starts stealing their clients, the three friends must reconsider their plans. A second book, The Good, the Bad, and the Bossy, is also available.
Ziggy and his friends Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome have formed a club called The Black Dinosaurs. They decide to build a clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard so that they have their own space to hang out and to hide their secret treasures. But when they start digging, they discover a box of bones. The four friends set out to find out who buried the bones and why. A story about friendship for readers who love mysteries. The Buried Bones is the first book in the Club House Mysteries series.
Coding replaces babysitting in the first book in the Girls Who Code series, which is about a diverse group of friends. Lucy was really looking forward to learning to code so she can make an app that will help her sick uncle keep track of his medication. When she’s put into a work group with girls she barely knows, she feels disappointed. Suddenly, Lucy starts getting cryptic coding messages and needs some help translating them. She soon discovers that coding – and friendship – takes time, dedication, and some laughs!
In India, fifth-grade student Ravi was at the top of his class with plenty of friends. In New Jersey, his classmates mock his accented English and homemade curry lunches. Joe doesn’t fit in, either. He has Auditory Processing Disorder and is bullied by the most popular boy in class. When the two boys are thrown together the first week of school, they gradually form a friendship and finally have a sense of belonging. An e-audiobook is available on Hoopla Digital.
Brianna Edwards has a huge crush on David Massey, the new boy in town. When David’s mom asks Bri to babysit David’s younger siblings, it’s the perfect opportunity to get to know David. But Bri spends so much time trying to impress him that she forgets to be a good babysitter. Can she get the boy and the job? This is the first book in the Babysitter Chronicles series.