Remembering the Babysitter's Club

Whenever anybody asks me what my favourite books were to read as a kid, I never even hesitate: Little Women, Heidi, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden ... but maybe I remember these so strongly as my favourites because I enjoy them still. They're favourites that have endured. However there was also a whole stack of books that I read over and over that rarely get a mention, and I can only assume that it's because they're not books that I read today. These are, of course, Ann M. Martin's The Babysitter's Club and Babysitter's Little Sister series.

Yesterday my mother saw me updating my book records and, after a brief round of light teasing, asked if I had included all the Babysitter books I had read when I was younger. The fact is, I had never even considered adding them. Little Women was there, for sure, as was Heidi and a whole range of childhood favourites. I don't even hesitate to add any child or young adult books that I read today, so why ignore all those books that I had read then?

My day today (never let it be said that I don't use my holidays productively) was spent reading through the complete lists of books in the Babysitter's Club and Little Sister series, to see just how many I remembered and which ones I felt secure in adding to my list ... who would have thought I would remember so many of them?

Reading these lists, I was flooded with memories of reading these books: feeling so lucky when I was allowed to order new ones through the school book club; taking my little clipboard to the public library and ticking off the numbers I was borrowing (yes, I was a list freak even then); sitting propped up in bed reading through a pile of them and running out to my mother at the start of every chapter because I couldn't read the cursive journal entries.

One of my favourite memories however is sitting down in the corner of of my older cousin's room (who I remember as being just so cool! and she had so many books!) and running my fingers along the bottom rows of her bookshelf where she kept her own collection of these books. I remember so vividly the day she bequeathed her collection to me. I can actually see the piles of books sitting in stacks under my bed - it was so exciting!

What surprised me most about today's activities is just how much of the details I remembered from all those years ago. Character's names, families, the tiniest details just hit me. I remembered Mary Ann (who was always my favourite) receiving a mustard seed necklace, I remember Claudia's oh-so-cool high top sneakers and Kristy's ever present jeans. I spared a laugh for Mallory's notebook carrying (what can I say, I'm more impressionable than I realise), and one for myself when I remembered how grown-up and important these thirteen-year-old girls seemed to me when I was young.

I've ended my day with a real desire to reread these books, to see how I would view them now. I may just have to head off to the library tomorrow ... I wonder if I can find my old shiny green clipboard?

13 comments :

Mae said...

I was a fan of this series too! In fact, I was brought up on them along with the Goosebumps series and other horrors by R.L Stine and the Sweet Valley series. I should cringe, but I don't.

Ahh - those thirteen year olds sure were mature. I'm still hoping I'll be as mature as them some day...

Rebecca said...

I never really got into the Goosebumps or Sweet Valley series, though I did read Pascal's The Unicorn Club series (the first couple at least).

I know! Me too. Maybe when we grow up we can be babysitters :)

MizB said...

Oh, I loved these books! I actually was really excited to come upon the first several books a couple of years ago in a yard sale -- a friend was closing down her used-book shop, so she had a giant yard-book sale! She let me fill a box and take it home for only $8! So, I got books 1-5, and books 7 & 8 of the series... book 8 was always my favorite (Boy Crazy Stacey). Then I got book 6 through Bookcrossing.com, as well as the first Super-Special (Babysitters On Board -- another fave). :o)

I can't wait to re-read them! Maybe next year! ;)

MizB

MizB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

My ten-year-old daughter loves the Babysitters Club books (they were not around when I was a kid...I guess I'm old!). We find them at used bookstores or the library.

writemeg said...

I was absolutely obsessed with The Babysitter's Club -- and I remember how excited I was when the movie came out, too! A friend of mine gave it to me for my tenth birthday at my big slumber party! I have no idea what happened to my collection... I'm going to have to call my mom to find out!

Brittanie said...

I loved the Babysitter's Club books too. Did you read the mysteries and super books? I hate to admit I read some of the Sweet Valley High books too. I kept the Babysitter's Club books and got rid of the Sweet Valley ones years ago.

Rebecca said...

MizB - There's nothing better than garage sale box-books. I get a lot of my book this way, or through the 20c spindle at the library. It's like a game - hunting out the book you're looking for :)


Valerie - We're never old!

writemeg - Oh how I loved the movie, too! I remember how envious I was of a friend who had a pretty copy whereas mine was taped off tv - I went looking for my copy this morning so I could watch it. Couldn't track it down, but it's around somewhere...

Brittanie - I read some of the Super books (I clearly remember the one about putting on the play Peter Pan) but I never read any of the mysteries.

The Babysitter said...

I loved the Babysitter Club books! I also remember all those details you mentioned. I remember when I was younger I wanted to start a babysitters club too, I thought it would be so cool. Now that I'm babysitting though, I see it differently.

Renae said...

I'm honoured to be the "just so cool!" older cousin! Thank you. And I love that my obsession with the BSC rubbed off on you Bec. Of course you should add them to your growing list of books. They are a major part of your literary life! I recently had this urge to reclaim my collection. My niece is in Kindergarten and starting to read on her own. I want her to experience the pleasures of BSC as well so started searching all the second hand shops and ebay. I found so many, including the super specials. I couldn't believe they were still around and so popular with the young girls today. I'm worried that if I reread them the magic will be gone. I know I will see them differently and I would hate to spoil the impact these girls had on my life! I just hope that Mady will love them as much as I did.

Dani in NC said...

My memory of The Babysitter's Club series is discovering them at my first bookstore job. I was a little smarty-pants in jr. high and thought I was too grown-up to read books aimed at my age group :-). I skipped the kids' section of the library altogether and read books that were a bit above my head like The Thorn Birds. I didn't even know that series like BSC and Sweet Valley High existed until I graduated from high school and got that job. I read more YA books now than I ever did as a young adult!

Book Lover Lisa said...

I've wondered about that myself - how horrible I would find the Babysitter's club and Sweet Valley Twins, if I read them now. I never really count them when I think of books that I enjoyed when I was a kid, I guess I find it kind of embarassing. It is like admitting a liking for romance now.

Jeane said...

I read a bunch of these when I was young, but I don't think I ever had a collection. I read a few of the Sweet Valley High ones, too- but never even heard of the Little Sisters series. Is that newer?