BABY RAVEN READS
Sealaska Heritage sponsors Baby Raven Reads, an award-winning program that promotes early-literacy, language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. The pilot program in Juneau ended in 2017, and SHI received funding to offer the program for another three years and to expand it to nine other communities in Southeast Alaska. SHI—in partnership with Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) Head Start program—will offer the three-year program in Juneau, Angoon, Craig, Hoonah, Klawock, Petersburg, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat through 2020.
Baby Raven Reads improves early literacy skills by translating cultural strengths into home literacy practices. Baby Raven Reads provides family literacy events, training for care providers, and professional development for early childhood educators.
On Jan. 27, SHI staff member Tess Giant attended the American Indian Library Association's Youth Literature Awards event at the Seattle Public Library to accept the 2018 Best Picture Book Award for the Baby Raven Reads publication Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy, illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade. AILA, an affiliate of the American Library Association, gives awards to identify and honor “the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians.” Salmon Boy, which was published in 2017, comes from an ancient Tlingit story that teaches about respect for nature, animals and culture. Michaela is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi clan from Sitka, and Salmon Boy was her first children's book. She is also the illustrator of the Baby Raven Reads titles How Devil's Club Came to Be, Let's Go! and Raven and the Tide Lady.
Family literacy events will occur 9 times a year in each community. Storytelling, songs, and other literacy activities are available to Alaska Native families with children up to age 5. Through playful and culturally relevant activities with parents, children are provided opportunities to practice and develop skills such as oral language, phonological awareness, print awareness, and letter knowledge.
The following events have been scheduled in each community. Please note that dates are subject to change.
Angoon: 2-4 pm on Jan. 19, Feb. 16; March 9, April 20, and May 18
Craig: 3-5 pm on Jan. 5, Feb. 7, March 2, April 4, and May 4
Hoonah: 1-3 pm on Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 29, April 26, and May 24
Juneau: 1-3 pm on Jan. 12
Klawock: 2:30-4:30 pm on Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 31, April 28 and May 31
Petersburg: 10-11:30 am on Jan 12, Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, and May 11
Saxman: 1-3 pm on Jan 13, Feb. 3, March 10, April 7, and May 19
Sitka: Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 16, April 13, and May 11
Wrangell: 10 am-12 pm on Jan. 19, Feb. 9, March 16, April 13, and May 11
Baby Raven Reads publications are a collection based on the cultural themes of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. The illustrations in the Baby Raven Reads series reflect the importance of family, subsistence, and our land. From baby board books to early readers and read a-louds, babies to adults can find joy in reading together. Families enrolled in Baby Raven Reads will receive Baby Raven Reads books with literacy activities to do at home. Books are also available through the Sealaska Heritage Store. (Read a Review)
Community liaisons are the point of contact in communities for all communications regarding the project.
- Angoon: Shiann Kookesh
- Craig: Loni Lingley
- Klawock: Janelle Friday
- Juneau: Miriah Twitchell
- Hoonah: Jamie Erickson
- Petersburg: Debra Eddy
- Saxman: Gabriella Daniels
- Sitka: Sydney Evenson
- Wrangell: Delila Wigg
- Yakutat: Marry Knutsen and Kim Buller
For individual contact information, please email Community Coordinator Susie Edwardson at email@example.com
Baby Raven Reads was recognized in 2017 by the Library of Congress, which gave SHI its 2017 Best Practice Honoree award (watch a video short of former Education Director Jackie Kookesh accepting the award). In February 2018, the American Indian Library Association awarded SHI's book Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award winner. Also in February 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.