SHI Expands “Baby Raven Reads” to Anchorage
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is expanding its award-winning early literacy program, Baby Raven Reads, to Anchorage through a partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC).
For Alaska’s Largest Village
Through the expansion, SHI and ANHC will offer the program for one year to Alaska Native families with children ages 5 and under in Anchorage, and participating families will receive nine Baby Raven Reads books and kits, plus invitations to family literacy events.
“Southeast Alaska is the ancient homeland of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, but many of our people live outside of the region, and more than 2,000 reside in Anchorage,” says SHI President Rosita Worl. “We are grateful to our partner, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, for helping us to make this expansion possible.”
Baby Raven Reads improves early literacy skills by translating cultural strengths into home literacy practices and incorporating culturally familiar terms and images into books. The Library of Congress gave SHI a 2017 Best Practice Honoree award for the program. In 2018, the American Indian Library Association awarded SHI’s book Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award, and in 2020 it gave Raven Makes the Aleutians a Picture Book Honor award. In 2018, SHI’s Baby Raven book How Devil’s Club Came to Be was reviewed by the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog as a recommended title, and in January 2020, AICL also recommended Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska.
“We’ve been envisioning an expansion of this remarkable program for our statewide community for many years,” says ANHC President and CEO Emily Edenshaw, “and we are grateful for the opportunity to promote early literacy through cultural stories and reading sessions at our facility. This project fits right into our expanding suite of cultural programs, which is only made possible through strong partnerships. We are stronger together and are so excited to partner with SHI.”
The expansion is funded through a grant from the US Department of Education, which is also paying for the continuation of the program in Craig and Wrangell.