Series Retrospective: The Baby-Sitters Club


In April 2024, the graphic novel adaptation of Baby-sitters Club #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke was the #1 kids book in Canada, and that warms my heart. When I was a kid, the Baby-sitters Club (BSC) was my favourite series. My obsession with the books was borderline unhealthy and I spent hours reading and rereading my favourites. I eventually outgrew the series, but it still holds a fond place in my memories, and I love that a new generation is enjoying this wonderful series.

The BSC series was published from 1986-2000, consisted of over 200 total books, and sold over 180 million copies. Ann M. Martin wrote about 60-80 of them herself and oversaw a team of ghostwriters who penned the rest. The series is about a group of friends, aged 11-13, who form the titular baby-sitters club after Kristy Thomas (president and founder) watches her mom call the entire neighbourhood one night in search of a baby-sitter. Kristy asked herself “what if people could call just one phone number and get a whole group of baby-sitters?” and from there, the club was born.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I started reading the series, or which book I picked up first, but I remember a lot of the stories, and I especially remember the girls. Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary-Anne, Dawn, Jessi, and Mallory were the core seven characters and after reading so many stories about them, they felt like real people to me. They felt like friends, and for a kid who sometimes struggled with making friends, that was important.

I identified most heavily with Mary-Anne’s shyness and Kristy’s loud tomboyishness, but my favourite was Stacey McGill. Stacey was the cool New Yorker who was good at math and always felt the most grown-up. As my real life age caught up with the girls’ age, she was the last one I outgrew, and her books were my favourites.

Stacey may have been the "cool, sophisticated one," but she struggled with type 1 diabetes. Her family left New York because her school bullied her for having diabetes. The BSC books were my first introduction to diabetes. One of the core strengths of the series was their progressiveness. The books were for children, but they tackled difficult topics such as disability, racism, divorce, death, and more. I learned a lot from this series.

The books were also immensely popular! The original series inspired a number of spin-offs along with a movie and two television series, one in the 90s and one recently. The movie is cute, I only ever saw one episode of the 90s series, but I adore the recent Netflix series. Updated for a modern audience, but infused with the series’ original spirit, I recommend it to all fans, old and new. Sadly, it was cancelled too soon, like a lot of Netflix series, but the two seasons we do have are wonderful.

Most of the spin-off book series came about after I was too old for them. There was the Babysitter's Little Sister series that focused on Kristy's stepsister, Karen. As well, there was a series called the California Diaries that focused on Dawn after she moved back to California. Today, there are graphic novels adapting the original and the little sister series. I was happy I could use these to introduce one of my young cousins to the series that I loved so much at her age.

Admittedly, I don’t revisit the books a lot as an adult, but I have reread a few. While some hold up and are still quite enjoyable, others are not as strong and definitely more appealing to children. However, they are still comforting and I am happy to see that they are still popular and enjoyed by many.



The Baby-sitters Club books are wildly popular again by Natalie Stechyson

Wikipedia - The Baby-sitters Club


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