The Baby Sitters Club: Rugged individualism, middle school style

If you were in elementary school in the 1990s, you remember The Baby Sitters Club.

The series, written by Ann M. Martin, starred a group of middle school students who, in a bid for some extra cash, start their own babysitting syndicate of sorts -- offering guaranteed childcare to parents on short notice. The books became a cultural phenomenon, selling 176 million copies in 14 years, spawning a series of 131 titles, 76 special issues, and 128 titles in the Baby Sitters Little Sister spin-off series.

In an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal, Laura Vanderkram offers an insightful look at the lessons young people -- and, actually, old people, too -- can take from the series: