I love the Baby-Sitters Club. No past tense required.
The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) series by Ann M. Martin debuted in 1986 at a point when I would have been ripe for interest for the series. I was nine. It’s weird to think I was ever nine, but I was and there you have it.
When I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of money floating around, but I loved books (I still love books), and read voraciously. As a kid, I probably only ever had a dozen or so BSC books, but I treasured each one. My favorite Super Special hasn’t changed after all these years, and is still the one you see above: Super Special #2: Baby-Sitters’ Summer Vacation.
I always loved the idea of going to camp. I always loved the idea of having friends. I loved the idea of having friends that I could go to camp with.
Some of the girls have an uncomfortable time when they first get to camp due to nervousness and anxiety but, by the end, they have all learned something and had experiences that made them grow.
About five years ago, I happened upon an auction for the first 20 books in the series, all in as pristine condition as you can get for nearly thirty year old paperbacks. I wrote to the seller and explained how badly I wanted them and we made arrangements and I, for the first time ever, had the first 20 books in the series. I was giddy. I don’t think there’s any other word for it. I was truly more excited than I think I’ve ever been to obtain books.
When they arrived, I read them all immediately. I found someone who was selling the first ten Super Specials, also in pristine condition, and I scored those, too. At that point I realized I wanted to make a particular dream come true: to finally have a complete collection of Baby-Sitters Club books.
It took a while (the later books in the series were extremely difficult to find decent copies of), and it took a crap ton of money, but I finally, finally have a complete set of BSC books. That’s all the main series, all the Super Specials, all the mystery series (and the mystery super specials!), and various other BSC books on the periphery (like the chain letter one!).
When I finally completed my set years ago, I decided to read through them all, in chronological order.
It was one of the very best things.
I’ve since done that a couple more times. Sure it’s over 200 books, but they fly by and I love them so much. Here and there, I will find I’m in the mood to read a specific entry, pluck it out, and read it.
11 year old me would be so proud.
There is something about this particular series. These girls are sweet, kind, thoughtful, industrious, hard working, and brimming with friendship and generosity. There is something so wholesome about reading them. There are no phones, no social media, just girls being good friends to each other and working towards different goals. They encounter issues and tackle them together.
These books give me hope.
As some of you may know, I’ve been further and further dealing with struggles and health issues. Even before this year and the Great Sick (I was incredibly ill for nearly ten months of this year), I had been struggling. It would take me thousands of words to explain it, and I’m not even sure I could accurately explain it, but I’ve been having a harder and harder time with various things. I think it’s probably likely that I have depression (again, sigh) and perhaps anxiety on top of my chronic severe migraines. It’s been reaching this fever pitch and I’ve already taken steps to do something about it (I phoned my doctor yesterday and made an appointment to discuss it further). I love life and I love living, but I hurt. I understand I am terribly fortunate with many other things, but I hurt. I also hurt physically, which is nothing new (20+ years of chronic illness where I am lucky to get a couple days a month with little to no pain), but when you wrap all this up together, it gets tiring.
One of the things that never fails to help, and I literally mean never, is to take a bath and read a BSC book. It always helps. It’s kind of remarkable, as I’ve not even had that level of luck with various medications I’ve taken for my migraines over the past 20 years.
I’ve read that Ann Martin isn’t a huge fan of people approaching her when they recognize her. But, if I happened to run into her some day, I’d be compelled to tell her that the books she created are not only entertaining and well-written, but they provide comfort. These books go above and beyond and are a particular type of soothing I couldn’t have anticipated, but am entirely grateful for.
I see a lot more BSC books in my future. I have a feeling I will always be reading them, even when my disposition improves.
I just love those girls. I hope to be as brave and as industrious as they are. I just probably won’t be baby-sitting as much.
Please take care of yourselves. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.