Sealaska Heritage



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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, Hydaburg, 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.

Latest News

In December 2020, SHI released four new books: Raven and the Hidden Halibut, an origin story based on traditional oral narratives written by the 2014-2015 fourth and fifth grade Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy (TCLL) students at Harborview Elementary in Juneau and illustrated by Nick Alan Foote; and original translations of three previous Baby Raven Reads titles, including Aadé S’áxt’ Haa Jeet Kawdihayi Yé (How Devil’s Club Came to Be), an original story  told entirely in Lingít that tells of a young girl who sets out to save her village, with translations by Florence Sheakley; Nax̱too.aat! S’áaxw yéi daané ḵa haa atx̱aayí daat shalneek (Let’s Go! A Harvest Story), which teaches about Southeast Alaska Native subsistence activities and foods, with translations by Florence Sheakley; and Am’ala, a traditional Tsimshian story told entirely in Sm’algya̱x about a young man who is teased by his brothers for being lazy and dirty and who trains secretly with a spirit to gain superhuman strength, with translations by the Haayk Foundation with the late Tsimshian Elder Sarah Booth.

In January 2020, the American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association, selected our 2018 release Raven Makes the Aleutians for a Picture Book Honor award. The selected books honor "the best of the best in children's and young adult literature." Illustrated by Haida artist Janine Gibbons, the book was adapted for children from the work of Nora and Richard Dauenhauer, who transcribed it from Tlingit storytellers Kaasgéiy Susie James and Shaadaax' Robert Zuboff's oral accounts. 

Literacy Events

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.  

Baby Raven Books

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

Community liaisons are the point of contact in communities for all communications regarding the project.

  • Angoon: Shiann Kookesh
  • Juneau: Rebecca Hsieh
  • Hoonah: Jamie Erickson
  • Hydaburg: Marita Tolson
  • Kake: Dorothy Jarchow
  • Ketchikan: Michelle Eakman
  • Klukwan/Haines: Tiffany DeWitt
  • Metlakatla: Susan Guthrie
  • Petersburg: Debra Eddy
  • Saxman: Gabriella Daniels
  • Sitka: Sydney Evenson
  • Wrangell: Delila Ramirez 
  • Yakutat: Violet Sensmeier

For individual contact information, please email 

Literacy Activities 

The following lesson plans were developed by SHI staff for the Baby Raven Reads program. SHI encourages parents and teachers to download them for their own use.

Alphabet lessons

Am'ala lessons (for use with the Baby Raven Reads book Am'ala)

"Berries" lessons (for use with the Baby Raven Reads book Picking Berries)

"Colors" lessons (for use with the Baby Raven Reads book Colors)

More lesson plans coming soon!


Audio Resources

SHI's Language Podcast includes the following episodes related to the Baby Raven Reads series:

  • Colors in Sm'algyax
  • Colors in Xaad Kíl​
  • Colors in Tlingit
  • Baby Raven
  • Baby Eagle
  • Haida Baby Raven 
  • Haida Baby Eagle

Tlingit audio for the Baby Raven Reads book Shanyaak'utlaax - Salmon Boy is available here.  



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, and in January 2020 it gave Raven Makes the Aleutians a AILA Picture Book Honor award.. 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. In January 2020, AICL also recommended Cradle Songs of Southeast Alaska.