Librarian, educator, and champion of children’s literature Caroline Feller Bauer died Monday at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel where she made her home, following a four-year battle with mesothelioma. She was 77.
Bauer was well known to the library and educational community for her years of presentations with the Bureau of Education and Research (BER) that demonstrated how to bring children and books together. She was also the author of several books on promoting children’s literature and library programming, including Handbook for Storytellers (ALA, 1995), This Way to Books (HW Wilson, 1983), and The Poetry Break: An Annotated Anthology With Ideas for Introducing Children to Poetry (HW Wilson, 1994).
“I take a poetry break because of her,” Hope Baugh, librarian at the Carmel Library (IN), tweeted upon hearing of Bauer’s death.
Dressing in a chicken costume to promote books was not beyond Bauer.
“Caroline taught us all that we can have a blast with books and kids, and [she] gave us permission to do silly, crazy things in our teaching,” Judy Freeman, children’s literature consultant, tells School Library Journal. “She was my reading role model.” When approached by BER to become a presenter, Freeman felt she was too busy. Bauer’s response? “Shut up and just do it,” Freeman recalls. Freeman is currently editing a revision of Handbook for Storytellers, scheduled for a 2014 release.
“Bauer’s Reader’s Theater Handbook [Presenting Reader's Theater: Plays and Poems to Read Aloud (HW Wilson, 1987)] was my inspiration for a successful program at my school,” posted Beverly Bell Fahey, a retired librarian from Loudon County Public Schools (VA), on Facebook. “She was truly a friend to librarians and her energy and creativity knew no bounds.”
Bauer was born on May 12, 1935, to Abraham and Alice Feller in Washington, D.C., where her father worked for the State Department and helped arrange for the purchase of the property where the United Nations now stands. Bauer attended the Brearley School in New York City and received her BA from the University of Colorado. She received her PhD from the University of Oregon, where she also was an associate professor of library science. In addition, she worked as a children’s librarian at New York Public Library and as a school librarian for the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale.
In 1967 she married Peter Bauer, a manufacturer, whose business caused them to live abroad, which Caroline loved. For 15 years they lived in Bhattiary, Bangladesh, a town where she fell in love with the children and where she worked to build both a playground and community center for them.
Her daughter, Hilary Wendell, tells SLJ that the best way to honor her mother, who “believed in education as a vehicle for advancement,” was to establish a fund for her work in Bhattiary. “I hope that we can all help her with her vision of providing and safe, magical and wonderful place for the children,” she adds. Donations to the fund can be made here.
Bauer is survived by her daughter and three grandchildren.
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