For any young girl growing up in the Nineties, one of the seminal book series we had at our disposal was The BabySitters Club. Don't lie. You know you read at least one.
I first picked up a BSC book in 3rd grade, I believe, the first grade at my elementary school where we had individual chapter-book reading time. This is when I realized that I read freakishly fast, because I often finished books in two or three days' worth of individual reading time when it took classmates longer to finish shorter books.
I developed a complex about this: I used to re-read the books and write summaries in my individual reading time notebook over and over until I figured that I was really stretching it out enough and then I'd move on to my next book.
Let's just say that 3rd grade was also when I realized that I was smarter than the average bear.
I became a walking encyclopedia of BSC knowledge. There are 213 books in the entire series. I didn't read all of them (Scholastic was still pumping them out after I stopped reading the series), but I read a substantial amount. Ann M. Martin was the credited author on all of them, but the majority of them were ghostwritten. The first one was published in 1986 and the last one came out in 2000.
I related to Kristy's tomboyish disregard of her appearance and wardrobe. I related to Stacey's New York City attitude. I related to Mary Anne's shyness, Claudia's Japanese heritage, Mallory's desire to be an author...
I liked the depiction of girl power inherent to a series where all of the central characters are girls.
I liked the first-person POV.
Now, the characters sort of smack of tokenism, but when I was 8 or 9, it was not the norm to read a book with any Asian or black characters at all. But really... one black girl, one Asian girl, one Jewish girl, one vegetarian, one diabetic...all in a Connecticut suburb, eh?
Granted, my own collection of friends kind of sounds like that. But we're from NYC, so there.
I liked reading the series because after about five books, you could skip the first two summarizing chapters and get on with the plot.
Throughout these books, however, the main characters stayed in eighth grade. It got ridiculous after a while! There I was, in fifth grade, going through puberty and these girls, who were older, apparently remained pre-pubescent from the year I was born.
Also, when I turned 11, I thought about it and realized that there was no way that I was going to be responsible enough to be allowed to watch a child on my own. The magic sort of left when I realized that and thus, I stopped reading the series. It went out of print after 2000, but has been revived. The series is available for the Kindle and as a graphic novel version.
Did you ever read the BSC? Did you have a favorite girl?
Cover photo from Amazon.com