Almost every millennial girl can admit to reading at least one book from The Baby-Sitter’s Club series of books. They were pretty much a library staple back in the late 80s and 90s. The first book of the series came out in 1986 and the last book the main series came out in 1999. In addition to the main series, which consists of 131 books, there are five spinoff series featuring the main characters of the books: Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, Mallory, Jessi, Dawn and Abby. This means there are over 200 books!
The Baby-Sitter’s Club isn’t just a series of books. It was a TV show back in the early 90s, and perhaps more famously, a movie in the mid 90s, starring some of the hottest teen actress of the era. And earlier this month, BSC fans found out that Netflix is bringing back our favorite babysitters for a series update. Hopefully the new series brings back an interest in the original book series. And while many of them are now out of print, anything is possible. In celebration, here are 50 of the best books spanning the original series, the Super Specials, and the Friends Forever series.
The Baby-Sitters Club is formed by four best friends: Kristy Thomas, Claudia Kishi, Mary Anne Spier, and Stacey McGill. Kristy is president because it was her great idea, Claudia is the only one of the girls who has her own phone line (which was a huge deal back in the 80s/90s when the books take place) and she has the best snacks. Mary Anne has the neatest handwriting and thus becomes secretary and Stacey is naturally gifted at math so treasurer is a natural fit. The idea of the BSC is revolutionary: call one number and reach four sitters. It was virtually unheard of back then!
Claudia has always been very close to her grandmother Mimi. Mimi is the only person in her family that truly accepts her for who she is — an artist with bad grades and a good heart. Mimi suffers a stroke in book #7, which is hard. So when Mimi dies, Claudia is devastated. Thankfully, Claudia has her friends to lean on. Family loss is hard, but when you’re a tween, it’s hard to allow yourself to grieve. So the fact that there’s an entire book to show kids it’s okay to be sad when your family member dies is important.
Stacey has been open about her diabetes from the beginning, even though it’s hard to talk about. Her old friends has made fun of her, but not the BSC. So, her problems aren’t about her disease or her friends, but her overbearing parents. At 12, your parents are annoying af. But when you’re sick, it’s even worse. On top of that, Stacey has to resolve her problems with her ex-best friend from NYC, who she realizes is a snob. And on top of that, she has to battle a rival club called the Baby Sitters Agency, irresponsible sitters who smoke cigarettes.
Dawn is the most recent addition to the BSC. She now lives in Stoneybrook because of her parents’ divorce. So it makes sense to have her babysit the Barrett kids. As kids of recently divorced parents, they need someone who understands. But Kristy believes their wild behavior was better before Dawn. So Dawn aims to prove her wrong. But it’s hard to know if Kristy’s hesitation is because of Dawn’s skill, or the fact that she’s become friends with Mary Anne. Not only does this book talk about the challenges kids face after divorce, but it deals with the very real feelings of friendship jealousy.
Jessi’s newest charge, Matt has been deaf since birth. This means he communicates solely through sign language. And if Jessi is going to be his sitter, that means she has to learn sign language too. She doesn’t mind, because she loves babysitting for Matt. Soon, all of the kids in Stonybrook want to learn to sign too. It’s important for them to learn, but that means the BSC is very busy teaching all of them. And Jessi is trying to work on a secret special project just for Matt. Will she be able to pull it off and keep the secret?
Mary Anne is the quietest member of the BSC. She’s never been much of a leader, because how can you be with Kristy as a best friend? But when the members of the Club have a huge fight, she's left alone and everything might fall apart unless she does something fast. No one expects Mary Anne to be the one who will fix all the group’s problems. But as this book shows, it is not always the person you expect to be the one who handles everything. There is often a strength inside all of us that we don’t know exists. And it shows itself when the cards are down.
The Pike family are like the Weasley’s in Harry Potter: They’re redheads and there are a ton of them. Plus, they’re not exactly the richest people in Stoneybrook. You kind of wonder what exactly Mr. Pikes must do as a job to take care of such a brood. So, when Mallory's dad loses his job, you see just how hard it is to support such a large family. Of course, she finds it hard sitting for the wealthy Delaney family as her family is struggling. Financial differences is something that doesn’t often gets the attention and care it needs, especially in stories for kids.
Kristy's mother is getting remarried! Kristy’s dad left the family when she was younger. So when her mom meets Watson Brewer, a man who is also divorced, it’s a big change. But Kristy is happy that her family is growing. Everyone is looking forward to the wedding of course. But that means there is so much to be done! And we know the BSC loves a challenge. So of course, Kristy enlists the Baby-Sitters Club to babysit for the children of the guests. And with fourteen kids to look after, inevitable chaos ensues. Honestly, we’ve come to expect nothing less.
It’s hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t want Claudia as a babysitter, but there’s a family who doesn’t. The other members find it weird when the family requests another sitter, so they send Jessi instead. It’s when they also don’t want Jessi to sit for them that the truth is revealed: the parents are racist. The series definitely didn’t shy away from difficult subject matter, and this book is proof. You wouldn’t expect racism to be an issue to tackle in 1992, but we know it’s still an issue in 2019. Surely, it started conversations about racism parents may not have had with their kids previously.
When Stacey moves back to New York, naturally members of the BSC find it hard saying goodbye to her. During the time they’ve been a group, they all grow very close. Everyone is taking it hard, but no one more than Claudia. Stacey and Claudia are the very best of friends. Plus Stacey will miss her charge Charlotte Johanssen terribly. It’s not fair that she has to leave. Stacey is one of a kind — how will the girls ever find the perfect going away present for her? And as much as they don’t want to think about it, who will replace her in the club?
Turning 13 is such a big deal. But for a Jewish girl, it’s an even bigger deal. Abby, the last new member of the BSC has to prepare for her Bat Mitzvah with her twin sister Anna. A Bat Mitzvah is so much more than just a party. You have to take classes, do homework and learn a series of traditions to perform during the ceremony. So, when Abby must deal with being accused of cheating on a math test amongst all that, it’s an incredibly stressful time. But there are lessons about honoring your heritage and staying true to yourself in there that are invaluable.
Maybe our generation’s love of mysteries and ghost stories stems from reading The Baby-Sitter’s Club books. In the second book in the series, the babysitters are receiving mysterious phone calls during their babysitting jobs. Someone keeps calling the houses, but when they pick up, no one’s there! Claudia believes the calls are from The Phantom Caller, a sneaky jewel thief who has been in the area. So, the girls decide to take matters into their own hands to solve the mystery. Claudia loves a good mystery, but will she feel the same way when it’s happening to her? And will they solve the case?
After Kristy’s mom’s new marriage, the family moves to a new neighborhood. Not only does Kristy have to leave the old house, close to the other members of the BSC, but Watson’s neighborhood is very upper class in comparison. So, it’s not surprising that Kristy feels inferior to her new neighbors, especially after they make fun of her sick dog Louie. Then, her mean girl Shannon Kilbourne tries to rival the Club. Of course this instantly pits them against each other. But once they get past their differences, Kristy realizes Shannon isn’t so bad, and may be a good friend.
There’s a new boy in school setting hearts a flutter. Logan Bruno moves to Stonybrook from Kentucky, and he’s so cute! We all know that a boy with blonde hair and a Southern accent is irresistible. Of course Mary Anne falls in love with him. But she’s quiet and shy. And she doesn’t think that a boy like Logan could ever like her. But maybe it’s not entirely impossible, as it seems Logan may like her back. This story focusing on the all consuming feelings of a first middle school crush brings you right back to those days. And what a fun ride it is.
Stacey and Mary Anne are spending two weeks as mother’s helpers to Mrs. Pike at the Jersey Shore. Even though they’re working, Stacey meets Scott the lifeguard and instantly falls for him. Tween girls do develop crushes very easily. But this means that Mary Anne is stuck doing all the work while Stacey is off having fun. And that’s totally not an okay thing to do to your friend, love or not. So of course it causes friction between the girls. Plus, they’re only in town for two weeks. So, how is Stacey going to deal when her heart inevitably gets broken?
Since Mallory has seven siblings, including a set of twins, Kristy figures she can handle caring for the Arnold twins. Mallory figures that Marilyn and Carolyn will be a breeze — they’re just cute little girls in matching dresses. But soon, they turn into total nightmares. And ones that poor Mallory can’t tell apart! Eventually, Mallory gets through to the twins and learn that all they really want is independence. And that’s something she can completely understand — she’s been asking her parents for the same. So, in the end, Mallory talks to Mrs. Arnold about loosening up, and convinces her parents to let her get her ears pierced.
Kristy babysits a little boy she calls the "walking disaster,” Jackie Rodowsky. He’s a good kid, but a total klutz. Trying to help him become less of a human tornado becomes Kristy’s mission. This is also the start of her softball team Kristy's Krushers. We all know how much Kristy loves to be in charge. And she also loves to play softball. Then, the Krushers are challenged by Bart's Bashers. And there’s a chance Kristy might have a crush on their coach Bart. Kristy is nothing if not professional, but sometimes we can’t help if our feelings get in the way.
As much as she loves her life in Stoneybrook, Dawn misses her dad and brother back in California. Initially, she goes back to California for a few months and comes back to Stoneybrook, but she realizes that her life really is in California. It’s hard to leave her mom and her friends in the BSC, but she knows in her heart she must. So when she decides to move back to California permanently she has a huge argument with Mary Anne. Because Mary Anne understandably feels like Dawn is abandoning her for her other life. Even though that’s not true at all.
Mary Anne and Dawn have been dating for a while, which the girls love. Who doesn’t love a good love story? Mary Anne’s dad and Dawn’s mom were a couple in high school and after the divorce and move to Stoneybrook they reconnected. Since Dawn and Mary Anne are so close, they dream of someday maybe being sisters. But they don’t think it’s going to happen. Well, never say never because at Mrs. Schafer's birthday party it seems that the girls are getting their wish. Their parents decide to marry and they are going to be family. How absolutely romantic!
Jessi volunteers to help supervise the Kids Can Do Anything Club. During her time with there, she meets a nine-year-old named Danielle, who has cancer. Danielle is very sick, and very aware of her disease. But she doesn’t let her leukemia hold her back from believing that she will be able to get her two wishes granted. One of them is to go to Disney World. And the other is to graduate from the fifth grade. Jessi wants to help Danielle get her wishes. So when she hears about a Make a Wish type place, she applies and Danielle gets chosen to go to Disney World. Jessi doesn’t know if she can grant the second wish, but she hopes it will come true.
Abby Stevenson has moved to Stonybrook from Long Island, NY with her mom and sister Anna. Dawn’s moving back to California has left a spot open, so Abby decides to join the Baby-Sitters Club on Kristy’s invitation. She fits in with the group, even though sometimes she may butt head’s with Kristy. But when Abby suffers from a scare with her asthma, Kristy starts doubting her. Abby is nothing if not determined and tries to prove that she should be a member. If Stacey’s diabetes isn’t seem as a reason for her to be a bad babysitter, Abby’s asthma shouldn’t be a reason to keep her out of the group.
Things at Kristy's house change drastically, when her stepfather Watson has a heart attack. That in itself is scary. But then, he becomes a stay-at-home dad, which is a new experience for everyone. Adjusting to having Watson home all the time is a lot for the family. And learning how to do things like cook, shop, and keep track of everything happening in the house is a big adjustment for Watson too. He surely never expected to become the primary caregiver to the family. But as they learn to accept their new normal, they all begin to appreciate each other more.
Claudia's drama class writes a Thanksgiving play for the children at Stoneybrook Elementary, which is fun and awesome. They’re getting to flex their creative muscles. And they’re tackling a subject that gives them a lot of creative license. So, they do what they think is a solid representation of what they think the first Thanksgiving was like. But some parents and teachers say it's un-American and protest. Probably because they feel it didn’t fit the same tired narrative we’ve been fed about Thanksgiving. This subject sounds like it could be from 2019 rather than 1990, which shows how little things have changed.
Dawn is hired to be more of a companion to 12 year Whitney, a girl with Down Syndrome. Her parents know that she needs supervision while they’re out, but they don’t want to make it seem like Dawn is a babysitter, even though she is. Whitney just wants a friend to hang out with, and thinks Dawn is that friend. She doesn’t realize that her parents are paying Dawn, even though Dawn absolutely loves spending the time with Whitney. How will Whitney feel if she ever finds out her parents are paying Dawn to hang out? Will Dawn still be her friend?
Mary Anne has always been the mousy, quiet member of the BSC. She’s not bossy like Kristy, and not stylish and flashy like Claudia or Stacey. But after always looking the same, Mary Anne wants to try something different. So, she decides to cut her long hair (which is always wears in two long braids) into a very cute and chic bob. And she decides that it’s time to grow up a little and some new clothes and makeup. While Mary Anne is loving her new look, the other members do not. They want her to stay the same Mary Anne they’ve always known.
Claudia is so excited to be babysitting new kids. Joey and Nate Nicholls are great kids, and really sweet boys. But for some reason, Claudia senses something may not be 100 percent right at their house. The boys seem almost scared of their father. And because of this, Claudia worries that her new babysitting charges are being abused. But, how will she prove it? That isn’t an accusation she can just make without a lot of evidence backing her up. And if she were to be wrong, then things could be really bad for everyone. But, what if she’s right?
Kristy babysits a child who is autistic. Susan is going to go to a special school and not apart of the mainstream population with her peers. Her parents of course are nervous about how people deal with Susan. Because they may not know how. It makes sense seeing as how the book came out in 1990, when autism wasn’t something we were talking about openly. Kristy hopes she can convince Susan's parents to let her stay in Stoneybrook, because she understands how important it is for Susan to be seen like every other kid. And at the end of all this, Susan makes a friend, which is all her parents wanted for her.
Stacey is the member of the BSC who is the most stereotypical girl. So, it comes as no surprise that she tries out for the cheerleading squad. Stacey already looks like she should be a cheerleader. Soon, she learns that the sports kids are very different than the friends she’s become close to. So, when she falls in love with a basketball player, as stereotypical cheerleaders do, she begins to think her friends are not mature. It’s not that her friends aren’t mature, it’s just that they are very different than the cheerleaders. Can it be possible for Stacey to be apart of both?
Mary Anne and Logan have to do the “egg baby” project at school. It’s was such a popular project back in the 80s and 90s! Taking care of an egg baby is a lot of really hard work. And trying to do it with your boyfriend can put a real strain on your relationship. It’s always more overwhelming to do the project that way. And while Mary Anne is taking care of her egg baby with Logan, she has to take care of real babies. She definitely learns quickly that an egg baby is a breeze when comparing it to, you know, an actual baby.
When you’re an 11-year-old girl, there are few things that are worse than boys and gym class. Both are the actual worst. Middle school boys are usually mildly irritating and always super immature. They think they know everything! And they’re always in the way! Mallory already deals with annoying boys at home, she definitely doesn’t want to have to deal with them at school too! But then, there’s gym class. A major source of stress for any middle school girl. And of course, the school decides to make gym co-ed! More boys. It’s no wonder that poor Mallory just can’t catch a flipping break.
After reading a personals column in a magazine, Claudia gets the brilliant idea to start one herself. And she figures it could be a way to meet the perfect boy. While she doesn’t find the perfect boy, she has a lot of adventures with imperfect boys. And she does actually give some kids great advice. Even if the advice column didn’t find her true love, it found her a new gig. It turns out that Claudia is really gifted with working with and on a newspaper team. And at the end of the day, a new skill is better than a boyfriend anyway!
Jessi has been a ballerina for most of her life. And her dedication to her art is one of the biggest things about her. She takes ballet very seriously. But she realizes that one of the girls in her ballet class is looking thin. And every time Jessi sees her, she looks a little thinner. Jessi knows that there are girls in the dance world who will starve themselves to have the “ideal” body for ballet, but she’s never been party to it before. Anorexia is dangerous and could have truly dire consequences. What can Jessi do to get her friend help?
When Dawn starts dating older boy Travis, the BSC knows that something doesn’t feel right. Dawn begins changing things to please Travis, who is always bossing her around. Knowing this, the others try to get Dawn to break up with him. A story like this is important because it teaches kids on what an abusive relationship can look like. Abuse isn’t always physical, especially at such a young age. However, manipulation is always a sign of emotional abuse. And it’s so easy to overlook when you’re directly in it. But having your best friends there to try and help you makes a big difference.
When Amelia, Mary Anne's friend and English project partner, dies in a car accident, Mary Anne feels helpless. Losing a friend in such a tragic and unexpected way is hard, no matter how old you are. But when you’re young and you lose a friend, it can be hard to wrap your head around how something tragic like that can happen. It isn’t often that kids have to grapple with one of their friends dying. And it’s hard to put into words just how hard it can be to navigate. Mary Anne doesn’t know how she can make sense of Amelia’s tragic death, or how she’s supposed to go on living.
Claudia’s favorite aunt, Peaches calls with exciting news. She’s pregnant and she and her husband are moving to Stoneybrook. She decides that after delaying having a baby because she was focusing on her career, she’s going to quit her job too (hey, her choice!) Peaches is probably the family member most like Claudia — she has a big heart, but she’s all over the place. So upon arrival, she begins to do things like ask Claudia to skip out on homework to go shopping or cook a fancy meal. But eventually, shirking responsibilities takes its toll on Claudia and they have a big fight.
Claudia cannot be more happy when her Aunt Peaches finally has her baby girl. And with her history of being a member of the BSC, naturally, she volunteers to help with the baby. It’s not like her Aunt Peaches spends all her time taking care of kids like Claudia does, right? While that may be true, Peaches definitely knows how to take care of her own baby. Even if she may not seem as qualified as Claudia is. So, it’s not particularly surprising when Claudia becomes a total pain in the butt when she starts offering Peaches child care advice. Because 13 year olds don’t know everything.
Jessi loves the holidays. It’s easy to get swept up in the joy of Christmas, because everything is a little bit brighter during that time of year. But Jessi’s family doesn’t just celebrate Christmas — they also celebrate Kwanzaa. And their Kwanzaa celebrations are even better than Christmas. Because her entire family, including relatives from out of town, come together to celebrate the holiday and share traditions. And when her little brother Squirt is in a car accident and suffers a head injury, it is really scary. Will her family still be able to find the joy of the holidays after that?
Mallory knows that her ultimate dream is to become a children’s book author. And she will do whatever she can to work towards her dream. So, when a new class comes up that focuses on nothing but children’s literature, Mallory is thrilled. This is her chance to really take the steps to make her dream come true! Except it’s not at all. First, her teacher tells them that there will be little actual writing, and lots of group discussions. Which is not how Mallory works. But then, when she tries to participate, her teacher only picks on the boys! It’s not fair!
Claudia has never been a very good student. School just doesn’t come naturally for her, which is hard because her older sister is a literal genius. But, she’s able to get by for the most part. Until she gets to eighth grade. Because she’s falling behind, Claudia is sent back to the seventh grade. And it’s a big adjustment for her.Going back to seventh grade is like admitting she’s not smart enough. Especially because now, she doesn't know anyone. So not only is she feeling like a total failure academically, but her friends aren’t even there to offer their support to her.
Mary Anne really wants to make the holidays special for everyone. So, she decides to do it the best way she knows how — by buying a bunch of presents. But Mary Anne’s heart is unfortunately bigger than her wallet. Even all the money she earns babysitting will not cover all the presents she’s gotten. She can not admit that she’s in over her head. Now, her only option is to get a second job at the mall. Except no one can no about it. Not Dawn, not her boyfriend Logan, and especially not her dad. But can she pull it off?
Dawn has always taken a serious interest in the environment. Some would blame it on the fact that she’s from California. There was a very real assumption about people from California begin a bunch of tree huggers. So, when Dawn wants to take action against pollution in Stoneybrook, people are going to be skeptical. But then, she becomes obsessed and risks losing her friends because we know being an extremist about anything is hard when you’re 13. And what’s worse is that Dawn’s admirable, albeit overwhelming obsession with saving the environment is ruining her reputation. And this was when the biggest environmental problem was the hole in the ozone.
Abby always enjoys getting to spend time with her grandparents, Grandpa Morris and Grandma Elsie. Especially during the summers, when she, her mom and sister spend time at their summer house. It’s always a fun summer filled with lots of special memories. So, Abby knows this year will be no different. And this year, her grandparents are planning and awesome Alice in Wonderland party and Abby gets to be Alice! So, when Grandma Elsie starts acting differently, like getting tired all the time, Abby is worried. Is there something wrong with her grandma? And if there is, will she be okay?
Eighth grade is a lot more than the girls anticipated. They’re all growing up, and things are changing. Kristy is shocked when members start showing up to meeting late. And then on top of that, they’re all fighting about jobs. There is even talk of not having their weekly Friday meetings anymore. What is going on? Plus, they’re all cracking under the stress of schoolwork. But when one of their favorite charges gets hurt on Kristy’s watch, that’s the last straw. Maybe everything would be better if she just breaks up the Baby-Sitter’s Club. But will she really do it?
Claudia is loving her life. She has lots of friends now — not just the BSC, but friends from seventh grade too. Plus she has a boyfriend! But, her schoolwork and babysitting really don’t leave her much time for socializing. And she really wants to be able to be with all her favorite people in one place at one time. So, when her parents go away for a few days, Claudia convinces her sister Janine to let her have all of her friends over to hang out. No big deal. Except everything goes horribly awry — people show up who weren’t invited, and then a vase gets broken. Yikes!
Adventure awaits the members of the BSC on an extended trip to New York City. Because the whole club is going, they can’t all fit in Mr. McGill’s apartment. So some of them end up staying with Stacey’s friend Laine’s family at the very fancy Dakota. All of the girls are doing their own thing. Claudia and Mallory are taking an art class, where it seems that the teacher prefers Mallory to Claudia. Jessi meets another black kid who likes ballet, and he’s a boy. Dawn is terrified of the city but makes an unexpected love connection. Kristy meets and special friend, and Stacey and Mary Anne babysit the cutest little kids.
Ahoy! Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn and Stacey are going on a major babysitting adventure. First, they’re flying to Florida, and then they’re going on a cruise to The Bahamas! And as if it couldn’t get any better, they’re going to Disney World! The Pikes win the trip for their whole family and ask Stacey and Mary Anne to travel with them like they always do. When Watson hears, he pays for the whole Thomas/Brewer clan plus Dawn and Claudia to join in on the fun. That’s a lot of sun, fun, and babysitting. But it also leaves a lot of room for some crazy stories!
The Connecticut lottery is in the millions and Claudia has been buying tickets like crazy. (We have questions about how.) So then of course, the other members of the club want to get in on the action. And who can blame them? They don’t win the big prize, but they do win ten thousand dollars! So, they decide to take that money and go on a group trip with Dawn to California to see her dad and Jeff. Except Dawn hates her dad’s new girlfriend Carol. Kristy clashes with Dawn’s friends from the We Luv Kids Club, and Mallory tries to change her entire appearance. Claudia meets a boy, Jessi gets a role as an extra on TV, Stacey becomes a surfer and Mary Anne has a charge with asthma. Do they still wish they could be California girls?
Stoneybrook Middle School is sponsoring a trip to London and Paris, which means some of the members of the BSC are heading to Europe. Kristy, Jessi, Stacey, Mallory and Abby go, while Claudia, Mary Anne and Dawn (who is spending time in Stoneybrook) stay behind. Jessi creates a travel journal to keep the others up on what’s happening, and it’s a lot. Kristy meets a cute Canadian boy, Michel. Jessi gets to dance with a ballet troupe, and Mallory finds out she’s a descendant of the Shakespeare. Due to a mistake, Stacey ends up with a suitcase containing remains of a WWII vet, and Abby has an awkward moment in front of the queen!
Stacey and Claudia have always been best friends, and nothing could change that right? Right. Or, maybe? When Jeremy arrives in Stoneybrook from Washington, both Stacey and Claudia are very interested in him. But Stacey already has a boyfriend back in NYC. But they’ve been having problems. However, Claudia is very single, so Stacey decides to do everything she can to make Claudia and Jeremy a thing. But then, Ethan tells Stacey he wants to slow things down, and suddenly, she finds herself available. This is the first time Claudia and Stacey have fought over a boy, and it doesn’t end well.
It is well known that Stacey is totally boy crazy. Out of all the members of the BSC, she has had the most “boyfriends,” or at very least boys interested in her. So, it was inevitable that one day they’d all end up back in her life at the same time. But even Stacey couldn’t have imagined it would quite as wild as it turns out to be. Stacey is currently dating Jeremy, who she “stole” from Claudia. And when she helps out planning a retirement party for a teacher, two more boys (and the student teacher she loved) show up to help with that. And then her ex boyfriend Ethan, and one of the boys from the Jersey shore come to Stoneybrook at the same time. How in the world can she juggle all of these boys?