When I was in 4th grade, my friends and I shared an obsession with the Baby-Sitters Club series, and decided to start an agency of our own: The Super Seven Sitters Co. We took on approximately zero babysitting jobs.
Our parents, though amused by our serious business skills (we spent at least 3 days picking out the name of the company and decided that our slogan would be: "When you need a sitter, think Super"), eventually put the kibosh on our scheme as most of us were between 9 and 10 years old and still needed sitters ourselves. "Maybe when you're older," they told us. "Maybe in middle school." Of course, by middle school, we'd all started taking local sitting jobs on our own, thanks to family connections and such, and our agency never quite got off the ground. Oh, what could have been!
Still, Laura Vanderkam of the Wall Street Journal argues that Kristy Thomas' entrepreneurial skills might just inspire young women who read the revamped BSC to create job opportunities of their own, particularly in a job market that isn't exactly teen-friendly these days. Vanderkam writes: "Imagine how empowering it will be for many of today's girls to learn that, by emulating young people just like themselves, not only can they drum up enough business to buy the little things that make the teen years tolerable without lobbying for cash from Mom and Dad, but they can even help out with strained family budgets? That's just as valuable a lesson as you'll learn from most textbooks."
Vanderkam has a point: though the memories I take away from being an avid BSC reader mostly center around Claudia's outfits, Mallory getting on my nerves, and Stacey's adventures at summer camp with impetigo, the only aspect of the books that actually moved me to act during my target demo reader days was "Kristy's Great Idea" itself: to create, with my friends, a successful business that we could be proud of. It never happened, but we believed it could, and spent hours planning how we'd split our pay, how we'd market ourselves, and what our membership rules would be. We might have ultimately just been playing pretend, but we were inspired and learning lessons about responsibility, teamwork, and how to take charge of our own economic destinies.
What's even more inspiring about the BSC is that they were able to juggle their work with their friendships, their families, their extra-curricular activities, and their artistic endeavors. The job was hard sometimes, but they were in it together, and they found a way to balance their "careers" with their personal lives, which is also a pretty positive message to send young girls. It doesn't have to be one or the other, and work, not to mention being responsible, can actually be fun. Unless you're babysitting for Jackie Radowsky. That kid was a bloody nightmare.
The Return Of Ann Martin's Baby-Sitters Club Books [Wall Street Journal]
[Image via Wall Street Journal.]