The Baby-Sitters Club Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Literary Fiction

The Baby-Sitters Club Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Literary Fiction

So deep is my remembered shame that even now, sitting at my keyboard at the age of 43, I’m blushing. I know that times have changed, that today boys can like whatever they like, are even applauded for it. But in the 1980s, when it seemed the only real options for me were “The Hobbit” or the Hardy Boys or Choose Your Own Adventure books, stories that as I recall all involved dragons and trap doors and motorcycle chases, sneaking home one of Ann Martin’s books about a group of 12-year-old girls from fictional Stoneybrook, Conn., felt like a crime. I mean, all of the covers were pastel. It was a moment. I think I read the first 15 books in the series over the course of fourth grade; whatever was in my school’s library — and I certainly didn’t share my enthusiasm then with another soul. My great immersion in the friendship of Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill (and Dawn, Malorie and Jessi — you know I couldn’t forget the later additions) is something I’ve had reason to revisit lately. That’s because my two daughters, 10 and 7, are now obsessives of the Sitter-verse. They have read the books, tracking down the out-of-print ones as e-books. They have devoured — like torn at each other’s hair to get at — Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel reboot of the series, which debuted in 2015. And for the past year their bedtime routine involves listening to audio ...
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