Received this on a local yahoo group I moderate. Liked it and want to pass it on! Enjoy.
Lessons from The Baby-sitters Club
Posted: 24 Mar 2010 09:56 PM PDT
Hi Folks! Here’s a lovely essay by The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Vanderkam
about, well, the cultural significance of The Baby-sitters Club.
Yes, I know how ridiculous (or at least American Studies for Dummies) that
sounds. And yet — you don’t sell 176 million copies of any series without making
some kind of impression on society. And the impression young readers got from
the girls in the Club was that kids their age could actually be responsible and
make money. Like adults! As Ms. Vanderkam puts it:
Hidden in the plots that show that friendship is good and that teasing, racism
and bossy boyfriends are bad, [author Ann M.] Martin imparts two more important
messages that modern readers need to hear: Teen girls are capable of handling
far more responsibility than we give them credit for, and they, like the rest of
us, can choose to make their own way in the world.
Right on! One of the Free-Range notions is that kids long to be adults, and
that’s a good thing. The human desire to grow up motivates kids to learn and
strive and get a paper route. (Remember paper routes? Remember papers?) It is
our job to help them along that path, rather than putting up a big, “CAUTION!”
sign and marching them back to the ExerSaucer.
About a year ago I posted a query asking, “What age did you babysit? And what
age babysitter would you hire now?” The discrepancies amazed me. Grown women who
had cared for kids, even infants, at age 10 or 11 now wouldn’t let their
13-year-old stay home for an hour alone at night. And they sure wouldn’t trust
their toddlers to a 12-year-old.
Scholastic’s Baby-sitters Club, about to be re-issued (with a new prequel,
too!), reminds us that not very long ago at all, we trusted “tweens” to do more
than just text. God, maybe we didn’t even call them tweens. — Lenore