The first installment of Ann M. Martin's beloved The Baby-Sitter's Club series was published in 1986. Fourteen years and 213 books later, the series came to an end. Or so Ann thought.
In 2009, Scholastic announced that it was reissuing the series—with brand-new, updated covers—and publishing original prequel, after the demand from now-grown fans became deafening. Mothers wanted to read the books to their daughters, teachers to their students. In a world of Gossip Girls and vampires, The Baby-Sitter's Club could provide young girls with positive role models, characters their parents would be pleased for them to emulate. So Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia and Stacey are back. Whether you think of them as old friends or a baffling phenomenon, you'd do well to introduce them to your kids—just don't be surprised when they're dressing up as Claudia and demanding return trips to the library.
Author Ann M. Martin opened up to Oprah.com about the lessons she hopes to teach kids and why the books still hold up two decades later.
Rachel Bertsche: You first started The Baby-Sitter's Club series in the late 1980s. Why do you think they stand the test of time? Why, some 20 years later, are they still holding up?
Ann M. Martin: I think they endure because a lot of the themes are fairly timeless. Friendship, family, issues at school. And, of course, babysitting, which really I think translates to your first opportunity to be responsible for somebody or something else. Taking care of a younger kid, which I think is a very important step in a child's life. But, ultimately, I think friendship is probably key.
RB: Why do you think kids take to the Baby-Sitter's Club books so much? For parents who don't understand the phenomenon, or never read the books themselves, why will their children love the BSC?
AM: I think most kids can find at least one character that they really identify with. I used to get letters all the time saying things like "I'm like all of the characters in the club. I'm like Stacey because I like fashion; I'm like Claudia because I like art." They'd list all of the girls. So I think kids find the characters easy to identify with. And that leads them right back into the issues of friendship, which are so important to children at that age. They're important to anybody at any age, but I think especially for kids who are just coming away from being really little and more attached to their family and stepping outside of the that a little bit. They're starting to form their own friendships, and that's what's going on with these books.
What surprises Ann M. Martin most about these books?