Reading Gets You Into the Club

Guest Blogger  //  Oct 9, 2020

Reading Gets You Into the Club

In 100 Reasons to Love Reading, the Scholastic 100th Anthology, Two Summers author Aimee Friedman writes about how the Baby-sitter Club series by Ann M. Martin helped shape her into the person she is today. Read her essay below.

Reading gets you into the club

By Aimee Friedman

I still remember that day. I was in the fourth grade, waiting in line in the school cafeteria, when I overheard two students raving about a book series they loved called the Baby-sitters Club. It was about a group of girls who ran their own baby-sitting business, and all the dramas and victories that ensued. My ears perked up; I was a voracious reader, and always searching for new books to consume.

That evening, with my mom’s blessing, I ordered the latest title in the Baby-sitters Club series—#15: Little Miss Stonybrook . . . and Dawn—off my Scholastic Book Club flyer. When the book arrived, with its bright and appealing illustrated cover, I dove in right away. And I was hooked. As soon as I finished, I ran to the library, and the bookstore, and anywhere I could get my hands on books 1–14. I caught up, and then waited breathlessly for the next installment.

Most of the novels I had read before were period pieces, or fantasies, or somber “classics” that my parents or teachers pressed on me. Nothing quite hit me where I lived like the Baby-sitters Club. The author, Ann M. Martin, wrote in a warm, familiar style that made the characters feel as real as any kids I knew. Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, and Dawn talked and laughed and fought and dressed and dreamed just like my friends and I did. They dealt with homework and crushes and family strife. And I loved that they were, on balance, kind to each other. In my own life, and in some of the contemporary fiction I had read, a fair amount of cruelty between girls was somehow celebrated. What a gift it was to see young women being supportive of each other, and working their way through disagreements with empathy. There was conflict, to be sure—any good story will have that—and never any sort of preachy mes- saging (kids are allergic to such things). But ultimately the books provided a safe, cozy haven where friendship and sisterhood won the day.

Reading and writing were always my havens—my favorite activities, my constant companions. Like so many writers, I was a shy and sensitive kid, and I sought solace in stories. I’d been writing stories ever since I could write—around age five—but I began writing in earnest, filling up notebook after notebook, around the time I started reading the Baby- sitters Club. I think those books gave me the freedom—the permission—to write about the day-to-day lives of girls who might not have superpowers or wield swords, but instead worried about school and friends, and found empowerment through chasing their passions.

Without the Baby-sitters Club, I don’t think I’d be the person (let alone the reader, writer, and editor) I am now. Does that sound like an exag- geration? Ask the countless BSC fans—both of my generation, and the readers still discovering the series today—and you’ll find many who feel the same, and share their love for the books via articles and podcasts and adaptations. We’ve become our own club, and the bond we share is proof positive of just how powerful and inspiring books can be. BSC forever!

Enter for your chance to win a copy of 100 Reasons to Love Reading, a Scholastic 100th tote bag, and Scholastic 100th post-its here!