If asked how many original members of The Baby-Sitters Club there are, I wouldn't even have to pause to think (answer: four). Claudia Kishi is an icon who still influences the more daring and fashion-forward among us. I know that the Baby-sitters Agency is an untrustworthy organization--some of their members smoke cigarettes! And during a kidlit trivia night, my team won points by knowing there are 131 Baby-Sitters Club books (not including Super Specials, Mysteries, Baby-Sitters Little Sister, Portrait Collection, or California Diaries installments).
But until recently, I'd never read any of those 131 books. While I was a childcare pro (I earned my Red Cross Babysitting Certification as a Girl Scout!), my babysitting career was well established by the time Kristy had her great idea in 1986, and I was aged out of the books. But because of the number of Buzzfeed quizzes, happy-hour conversations, and BSC mentions I see across social media, I know that the books are much more than just nostalgia for fans.
When I learned that the adventures of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey would be on audio for the first time, I decided it was time to sit down and see why the books are such a touchpoint. I downloaded the first four installments and settled in.
As a tween, I probably would have been inspired by their business savvy; I'd have daydreamed about being a member (what unique qualities could I bring to the BSC?), and would have eagerly anticipated each and every new episode. As an adult, I marvel over the life lessons these girls are learning--and can see those strengths reflected in the women I know today.
My biggest takeaways:
These girls are serious about running a business. They talk about marketing, roles, guidelines, and expectations. It makes sense that I've run into so many BSC fans who have started businesses, are leading teams, and work to empower young women as they start their careers.
They are truly a sisterhood. They're supportive of each other through thick and thin--and their differences are accepted, celebrated, and part of what makes their team the powerhouse it is. With women-only spaces for networking and learning opening from coast to coast, it's obvious the BSC aren't the only ones who believe that women should support women and were ahead of the curve.
They accept that even when it's tough, treating mistakes--whether in their interpersonal relationships or as their business develops--as learning experiences is the best bet. In fact, with their team notebook (documenting the highs and lows of each and every job) they might even be the original examples of productive bullet-journaling.
So, I'll admit it: I'm a later-in-life convert to the BSC fandom--and I can't wait to share the audiobooks with my nieces. After all, every girl should be reminded that having a girl gang is powerful, you should surround yourself with supportive people, and following your passions can lead to being The Boss.