By Hillary Busis
November 14, 2012 at 04:08 PM EST

What’s the secret to The Baby-sitters Club‘s phenomenal success? According to Scholastic editorial director David Levithan — who began working on the series as a 19-year-old Scholastic intern — it’s simple: “Girls have always connected with The Baby-sitters Club [because] they feel it’s real. It’s not amped up, action-packed drama or mythology or something that has no bearing on their lives,” he says. “And reading the books now, it’s amazing how relatable it all still is.”

Levithan is right. Any girl — any person, for that matter — can empathize with the struggles BSC members faced, from dealing with divorce to experiencing your first major crush. Relive all of middle-school’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs throughout the following pages, in which author Ann M. Martin selects her favorite titles from the 20 BSC books that are getting an electronic re-release in December. Martin has also added personal commentary about each of her picks, which are accompanied by their classic cover illustrations. You want side ponytails? We’ve got your side ponytails right here.

So, which books made the cut? Find out below!

Book 1: Kristy’s Great Idea

“This book will always be my favorite BSC book because it started the series and the four original main characters — Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey — were established here. The character, Kristy, was based on my best friend, Beth.”

NEXT : Stacey’s big secret

Book 3: The Truth About Stacey

“It never occurred to me that after I wrote this book I would hear from so many readers who actually recognized the warning signs of diabetes and diagnosed themselves based on Stacey’s story.”

NEXT: One wedding and no funerals

Book 6: Kristy’s Big Day

“This is one of my personal favorite BSC books as I always enjoy writing about a large cast of characters. There were a lot of fun baby-sitting scenes.”

NEXT: Silbing Sibling rivalry

Book 7: Claudia and the Mean Janine

“In this book, Claudia was having a tough time in school. The sibling relationship explored in this book was inspired by events in my childhood.”

NEXT: Crush time

Book 8: Boy-Crazy Stacey

“The setting for this book was inspired by my love affair with the Jersey Shore. I grew up vacationing in Surf City, Avalon, Stone Harbor, and Cape May.” David Levithan also names Boy-Crazy Stacey as his favorite BSC title: “You can’t go wrong with a summer at the shore.”

NEXT: A spooky tale for a sunny Californian

Book 9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House

“I grew up reading Nancy Drew books and loving mysteries in general. I desperately wanted to find a secret passage in my own home despite the fact that it was built in 1960. In this book, Dawn lives out my fantasies by finding a secret passage in her own (very old) house.”

NEXT: Logan Bruno. Sigh!

Book 10: Logan Likes Mary Anne

“I’m often asked if I based Logan Bruno’s character on anyone in real life. Actually, I didn’t. When I was writing about Logan, I was remembering the crushes that my friends and I had on boys in our classes. I think it was particularly fun giving the first ‘big romance’ to Mary Anne’s character as she’s probably the least likely to have a boyfriend.”

NEXT: The long goodbye

Book 13: Good-bye, Stacey, Good-bye

“I thought it was reasonable that in a group of friends the size of the Baby-sitters Club, one member might move away at some point. Since Stacey hadn’t grown up in Stoneybrook, I thought it made sense that she might have to move back to New York City. We didn’t expect the backlash from fans when Stacey moved. This is when I found out that Stacey was the most popular character at that time.”

NEXT: Prelude to Honey Boo Boo?

Book 15: Little Miss Stoneybrook… and Dawn

“This was a really fun book to write as I had to come up with the different costumes for the pageant, and the quirky talents for the contestants.”

NEXT: Signed, sealed, delivered

Book 16: Jessi’s Secret Language

“This is one of the stories that I hold close to my heart. Jessi babysits for a boy who communicates using sign language. I took a class in signing and also had the manuscript vetted for accuracy.”

Read more:

Say hello to your friends! ‘The Baby-sitters Club’ gets an e-book rerelease — EXCLUSIVE

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