The Forum

In Memoriam: Marianne Carus

March 15, 2021 by Michael B. Poliakoff

Marianne Carus, founder of Cricket magazine for children and young adults, passed away on March 3, 2021. I count myself very fortunate to have known her and to have had the privilege of wonderful conversations with her, conversations characterized by that same keen intellect and graceful eloquence that she brought to her life’s work in children’s literature.

Ms. Carus was born on June 16, 1928, in Dieringhausen, Germany. In 1948, she attended the University of Freiburg to study literature. There she met her future husband, Blouke Carus, who was studying with Nobel prize-winning chemist Professor Hermann Staudinger.

After the couple married in 1951, they moved to LaSalle, Illinois, to work for the Carus family’s chemical business. While she raised three children. Ms. Carus studied art history and German literature at the University of Chicago. Alarmed by the simplistic books that their son brought home from school, Marianne and Blouke embarked on a journey to develop a reading and language arts program, Open Court Basic Readers, that combined phonics with high-quality literature.

Ms. Carus soon launched her own children’s literary magazine, focused on exposing readers to excellent writers, poets, and artists with the goal of inspiring the imagination and a wonder for the world. Guided by an expert editorial board that included Clifton Fadiman, book critic for the New Yorker, the first issue of Cricket was released in 1973, to wide acclaim. Ms. Carus served as editor-in-chief at the Carus Publishing Company for 35 years, which expanded to include many more beloved children’s magazines such as Ladybug, Spider, Click, and Muse.

In her words, “The way to create in children a love of reading and an appreciation of good writing is to offer them beautifully illustrated, lively, well-written, interesting stories, sustaining a witty tone and a sense of humor. I am convinced that children will respond to quality if it’s not forced upon them, but presented in an engaging manner.”

ACTA was honored to see Marianne Carus at our events. We admire her unique passion for education and the arts that has inspired a love of reading and thirst for knowledge in many generations of young people. She will be greatly missed.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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