BSC through the generations: How a gift from my grandparents changed my life
By Lauren on December 10th, 2012
Today is my turn to talk about how The Baby-sitters Club had such a big impact on my reading life, as we all celebrate the news that The Baby-sitters Club series is now available as ebooks!
If you asked me about my memories of reading as a young child, they would all start the same way. They would begin on a Sunday every other weekend, in the kitchen of my parents’ house, bouncing around as I awaited the arrival of my paternal grandparents, who drove up from Queens to Westchester to visit with my family for the afternoon. I could never wait for my Grandma and Grandpa to show up–not just because they were fun to hang out with or because they always took us for Carvel Ice Cream, though these were all perfect reasons to justify a level of anticipation that my brother still describes as “irritating beyond annoying,” but because whenever they came to visit they showed-up with a brand new book for me to read. And for most of my childhood, the books they were bringing me were the latest installments of The Baby-sitters Club.
I had discovered the BSC in Ms. Keating’s third grade class when a particularly popular classmate was surreptitiously reading what looked like someone’s journal under her desk. The pages were covered in soft, sloped hand-writing instead of typed font (it turned out to be Dawn’s entry she was reading). I slipped her a note scratched on Lisa Frank paper (of course) to ask what she was looking at and she wrote back that it was The Baby-Sitters Club. Along with the Sunday afternoon visits from my book-bearing grandparents, my family had another excellent reading tradition—Wednesday evening visits to the library, where my dad would spend an hour perusing photography and train magazines and having befriend the children’s librarian, I would become armed with the newest books. Curious what all the cool kids were reading, I decided to see the BSC for myself. That Wednesday night I checked out a copy of The Baby-sitter’s Club #10: Logan Likes Mary Anne! They say you never forget your first love and whoever “they” are, they are absolutely correct. I started the book right there, my back pressed up against the tall shelves of books, corners digging into my shoulder blades, read it under the table at dinner, and then in bed with a flashlight well past lights out. I didn’t stop until Logan had wrested Jackie Robinson’s hand from the fishbowl in which it was stuck and Logan and Mary Ann were dating. It was the first chapter book I had consumed in one sitting and I was hooked. Not only did I plan to rush to the school library at recess to raid the shelves, but I made sure at breakfast to tell my dad, “You need to tell Grandma and Grandpa to bring me the Baby-sitters Club when they come!”
And so it came to be, that every other Sunday, I hopped from foot to foot pacing around our kitchen, then our driveway, wondering if every car engine in the distance was heralding my grandparents’ arrival, awaiting my next Baby-sitters Club book. As a kid, I don’t think I ever put much thought into why I loved the BSC so much. I just did and that was enough to keep me reading. But looking back now, my reasons for connecting to Kristy, Mary Ann, Claudia, Stacy, Dawn, Mallory, Jessie, eventually Abby, and sometimes Shannon were much deeper than I realized at the time. The members of the BSC were the types of girls I aspired to be. They weren’t perfect. Claudia struggled in school, Mary Anne could be too sensitive, Stacy too boy crazy. Kristy too bossy. More than fun, it was meaningful to read about a group of well-meaning but sometimes flawed individuals, who in turn made it ok for me to be less-than-perfect. They gave me permission to make mistakes and to learn from them. The BSC were also the types of friends I wanted to have—diverse, funny, caring, but realistic. Sometimes they fought, sometimes they disagreed, but at the end of the day they always came through for each other.
If I had the opportunity, I would love to thank my grandparents. Not only for buying books that encouraged a life-long love of reading, but for always coming to see me and bringing the gift of something that to me, was so much more than a book. They were happy memories, life lessons, and a way to make the painful, confusing times during my formative years a little easier.
I still have every BSC book my grandparents ever bought me. That photo is of my collection taken at my parents’ house very recently. My hope is that I one day get to pass them down to a daughter, giving her the same gift my grandparents gave me.
No comments yet
- In Our Feeds: excerpt of The Dream Thieves, 20 most beautiful libraries on film and tv, sleepy american students, Harry Potter sold at auction