Miriam Roth, the writer and scholar of children's books, died of pneumonia Saturday night at the age of 95. She was the author of such classics of Israeli children's literature as A Tale of Five Balloons.
In addition to publishing beloved children's books in Hebrew - including Podi the Hedgehog and Hot Corn, among others - Roth wrote and lectured widely on children's literature and education. Her most recent children's book was published last year.
Roth's funeral took place on Sunday at Kibbutz Sha'ar Hagolan, which was her home for many years. She is survived by one of her three children, her son Adam, and by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Among the many prizes she was awarded during her lifetime were the Bialik Prize and the Unicef Prize, which she won for A Tale of Five Balloons.
Roth was one of the pioneers of Israeli children's literature and of preschool education in Israel. Born in 1910 in a town that is today in Slovakia, Roth was the daughter of a the principal of a Jewish school.
After studying psychology at Brno University, she immigrated to Palestine in 1931, and studied at Seminar Hakibbutzim and at the Hebrew University before receiving a master's degree in education from Teachers' College in New York. In 1937, she was one of the founders of Kibbutz Sha'ar Hagolan, and became its kindergarten teacher. She trained teachers and taught children's literature at Seminar Hakibbutzim, and by her own admission was well-acquainted with the sorrows and joys of Israeli children.
Roth started writing relatively late. A Tale of Five Balloons, her first book, was published when she was 61. It was inspired by her own experience of comforting her children when the balloons she would bring them from her frequent trips away from the kibbutz would eventually burst.
Roth wrote stories for children that were rooted in the Israeli landscape and in kibbutz life, and was revolutionary in creating a new literary genre centered upon children's feelings and experiences, rather than on collective Zionist themes. Yael's House, for instance, told of a girl living on a kibbutz who longs for a private corner of her own.