In 1996 at 10 years old I discovered Kristy, Mary-Anne, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, Jesse and Mallory — collectively known as the Baby Sitters Club (or BSC). The BSC were a group of early teenage girls who, despite coming from a range of backgrounds with diverse interests, were friends. They started their own neighbourhood babysitting agency while juggling friendships, families, artistic pursuits, extra-curricular activities, and the occasional love life. The books might be scoffed at as fluff, but the positive messages I took from them — responsibility, teamwork, problem-solving, economic independence and balancing a “career” with personal life — negated the lack of challenging vocabulary.
Perhaps inspired by the girls I saved my pocket money and scoured secondhand bookstores, garage sales, and library clearances for unread copies. The BSC was my first real exposure to many Americanisms. Without it I could have easily embarrassed myself not knowing what PBJ stands for. It is also connected with my first ideas about fashion and style — even now my clothing choices reflect a combination of kooky Claudia and sophisticated Stacey.
As I headed for high school, author Ann M. Martin finished the series. It was nice to feel like the BSC were growing up with me. Nowadays if I come across an old BSC book I can’t resist flicking through it — it’s like visiting a trusted friend who reminds me of what it was like to be ten again.