April 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Librarian, Kid Lit Champion Caroline Feller Bauer Dies at 77

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.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.



  1. It is impossible to count all the people that Carolyn Feller Bauer inspired, and the huge impact she made by demonstrating storytelling with props, in comparison to traditional storytelling. Many of us decided there was room for both in our repertoire. I remember when I received a phone call (back in the 80’s) and heard that I was selected to serve on my first ALSC committee – Preschool Services – and that my chair was going to be CFB. To a new librarian, it was incredible news and one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

  2. Martha von Schilgen says:

    I am so sad to hear of such a great loss to the world of children’s literature. I told my students I heard Dr. Bauer speak several times and that she added so much to my teaching and my students’ engagement with all kinds of literature. I can still picture her with the plunger on her head!

  3. As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I was very sorry to hear about the death of Caroline Feller Bauer. She was a splendid librarian and writer, and when my first book, BABY, COME OUT! was published and chosen by SLJ as the worst picture book of the year, Ms. Bauer wrote a fine and generous letter supporting the book, which SLJ published. Her support meant a great deal to a new and–scared–writer.

  4. Caroline reminded us to have fun with our work. I remember her library cheers and zany exploits. Such a loss.

  5. So sorry to read about this. Caroline was an incredible, creative, and dynamic librarian/educator. Years ago, right after I finished by Ph.D., I interviewed for a faculty position at the University of Oregon’s library school. Caroline and I hit it off immediately. She even took the time, after an offer had been extended to me, to call and encourage me to come to Oregon. In the end, I reluctantly decided not to accept the offer, but one of my biggest regrets was giving up the opportunity to work with her. What fun we would have had!

  6. Caroline was one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Her love of libraries and children live on in all of us. I know that I am a better librarian because of her.

  7. Sylvia Martin says:

    Caroline was my favorite professor at the University of Oregon. I took two classes from her that made a difference in how I used literature throughout the curriculum in my fourth and fifth grade classes. I have donated autographed copies of her books to the library at Cottey College. There is a possibility that I, too, will be teaching a class in Children’s Literature and will be honoring her memory as I teach future teachers. I have taken other classes from her in the past and every time we would meet it would rekindle a mutual respect that we had for our thinking, love of literature, and love of children!

  8. Lynne Smith says:

    I owe much of my storytelling style to Caroline Feller Bauer. I attended on of her BER classes in Orlando in the early nineties and I was hooked on props and fun to enhance my storytimes for preschoolers and schoolage kids. She was inspirational! Sad to hear of her passing. Makes her body of work just that much more valuable.

  9. Andd Becker says:

    November 8, 2013
    Two days ago I bought an excellent book, NEW HANDBOOK FOR STORYTELLERS by Caroline Feller Bauer. I started reading the book immediately. In a list of classics, Ms. Bauer included Laura Joffe Numeroff’s 1985 IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE. Ms. Bauer wrote: “Too new to be a classic? Call me in 20 years and tell me I was right.” The American Library Association publication date was 1993. So I decided to send a message, YOU WERE RIGHT! to Ms. Bauer, only to learn that she passed away in April 2013.
    I extend my condolences to Ms. Bauer’s daughter, Hilary Wendell.