Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI releases Haida Baby Raven Reads books for children

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May 25, 2017

(Baby Raven) (Baby Eagle)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has released two culturally-based children’s books based on the Haida culture that reflect the Native worldview.

The books are part of the institute’s Baby Raven Reads, a program for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5 that promotes language development and school readiness.

The books include “Baby Raven” and “Baby Eagle”—which teach the English and Xaad Kíl (Haida) words for clan crests. Benjamin Young edited the Haida words. The clan crests were illustrated by Crystal Worl, who specializes in minimalist or “baby” formline, and the Southeast Alaska environmental illustrations were made by Nobu Koch.

The Haida books follow on the heels of nine other culturally-based children’s books that were published by SHI in 2016. The release of the books is groundbreaking because so few culturally-relevant children’s books from Southeast Alaska exist that are not tailored for the commercial market. Research has shown that Native students do better academically when their cultures are incorporated into learning materials and classes, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

 “Studies over the past three decades have shown that Native language and culturally-responsive programs are associated with improved academic performance, decreased dropout rates and improved school attendance,” Worl said.

SHI plans to publish another seven children’s books this year, bringing the series total to 18. The books are available through the Sealaska Heritage Store in Juneau and on the store’s website.

Raven Reading: A Culturally Responsive Kindergarten Readiness Program is funded by an Alaska Native Education Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education:  CFDA # 84.356A, PR# S356A140060.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research and advocacy that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

CONTACT: Rosita Worl, SHI President, 907.463.4844