Children’s Classics: on the wasted potential of my youth

I think I may have mentioned I love to read, and have loved reading since I was a young child. I may have mentioned my grandmother taking me to the local library, lying to me about the book limit that there wasn’t, and consequently me taking out 17 books at a time for years for no reason…

Plowing through 17 books at a go, several times a week had the potential to open me up to a world of literature. So it surprised me when I decided to participate in this month’s Children’s Classics Carnival at 5 Minutes for Books devoted to the middle reader range (8-12 years old) that I was at a loss for what book I could write about – indeed a quick search of the classics for that age range yielded a lot of, “Oh yeah, I never did read that, did I?” What happened? I can assure you, I was reading. A lot. 17 books at a time, a lot.

So what’s my excuse for being very poorly read in the 8-12 middle reader range of classic children’s literature – well I was very busy reading what I consider to be the classic children’s book series for the tween readers of my generation and beyond – that’s right, The Baby Sitter’s Club. Oh you’ve heard of them? Oh you haven’t? Regardless, yeah I read them, yeah I still own them, yeah I think the newer books are garbage. Yeah I religiously skipped the first chapter of every book after say the 3rd installment of her hundreds long series, because yeah seriously, they are ALL the SAME. Way to utilize the copy and paste button that may or may not have been available to you then (…and ohhh if it wasn’t, do I ever pity you Ann).

And when I say I own them, I mean I have a box somewhere with quite possibly 100 of them, and I refuse to sell them – my daughters may need those books someday – heck, I may want to read them again someday. And I’m certain if that day comes I won’t easily find them all again – bookstores everywhere are stocked with the most pathetic selection ever and almost always have new ugly horrible covers.

And okay, there’s a chance I won’t really read them all again. I’ve found some of those old chapter books can be painful to read as a grown up – even Nancy Drew made me want to scouge my eyes out with a spork trying to read it recently. Which is strange when I read a lot of the current middle reader books, like the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, the Harry Potter, the Lemony Snicket, yeah I’m up on all of that. Did the old books I devoured just suck or is there something wrong with me? Although, okay, I’ll admit I don’t re-read many books ever anyway, so there’s that. Sometimes it just sucks to already know what happens I guess.

But I loved the Baby Sitters Club. I watched the movies, I bought the merchandise, I almost never baby sat ever until I was in college, but still considered myself an avid fan. I was disappointed when I too turned 13 and found, lo and behold, I was still very much a kid, the boys were not hunky gorgeous, and I was not cool – what happened? It wasn’t until years of watching Dawsons Creek and Buffy that I caught on to the fact that we don’t like looking up to our exact selves, but older more mature versions of what we’ll never be.

And now I have no idea what I’m talking about, but just wanted to say, Baby Sitters Club – I ❤ you, and I’ll never sell you even if my husband begs, even if we have all boy children – there is still hope for grandchildren, Ann M. Martin, I will find a use for all your works yet. I thank you for entertaining me through those years, for lying to me ever so sweetly about what being 13 would really be like, and for writing so so many books – you had your work cut out for you, I know, knowing that I’d be in the following week looking for 17 new books and it took you a long, long time to start running out of steam – and by then I was ready for Janet Evanvoich. And by then I realized my grandmother had lied to me. It’s okay grandma, I forgive you.

So thank you Ann M. Martin. And goodbye (and by goodbye, I mean, I’m going to try and publish this already so I can write my NEXT brilliant post).

11 thoughts on “Children’s Classics: on the wasted potential of my youth

  1. I LOVED the BSC. Really, really loved it. I also loved anything Ramona, Judy Blume and did you ever read the Sleepover Friends?
    Thanks for the wonderful memories!!

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  2. Oh yeah I definitely read a good bit of Blume and Cleary at least and several others – but so many books got sidetracked for my true obsessions. 🙂

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  3. That comment was from me, Jennifer. I have so many logins that if I forget to check. . . . ?

    Also, I think I’m too old for the books, so that’s the only reason I never read them.

    Now Trixie Belden–I devoured her!

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  4. A different take on the “classic” but they have actually endured! And yes, it’s what kept you from reading the “good stuff.” Although I bet that you did read Judy Blume, L’Engle, Cleary. . . .

    My daughter started reading these in 4th grade (maybe the end of 3rd?) and was totally hooked as well! We got freebies at the library book sale and picked them up for 50 cents at used book sales. They were in her school library too (where there really was a limit).

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  5. Wow, 17 books… lol.. I would drag my feet and pout because my Dad only allowed me to take out 3 or maybe 5 at the most. lol.. I wished for more!!!

    Loved the Babysitters Club books! I think I passed them on to the next tween after me, but I loved the series.

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  6. I am laughing so hard! I never read BSC, but I inhaled Sweet Valley High books like they were the air I needed to breathe. I think SVH can fit right in with the super-high quality BSC books. I can still picture the exact aisle in our local bookstore where they displayed all the Sweet Valley books. What literary gems! 🙂

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  7. LOL! Your review is hilarious. I, too, was a fan of the Babysitters Club and was frightly disappointed to discover real life wasn’t like that. But I didn’t mind reading about the same thing over and over again either. Such a weird series to love – yet loveable.

    Thanks for your review!

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  8. I loved the Baby Sitter’s Club books when I was younger. Actually the movie was on TV a couple weeks ago, so I watched it to take me back to the younger days! BSC rocks!

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