Sealaska Heritage

BABY RAVEN READS

BABY RAVEN READS

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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 several more 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—offered the program in Juneau, Angoon, Craig, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Petersburg, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat through September2021. SHI is currently seeking funding to continue the project in these communities.

In fall of 2020, SHI received funding to expand the project further to families living in Haines, Klukwan, Kake, Ketchikan and Metlakatla. Tribal partners include Chilkat Indian Association, Organized Village of Kake, Ketchikan Indian Community and Metlakatla Indian Community.

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. A recent study by McKinley Research Group reveals that Native children who participated in the BRR program made 20-39 percent gains in phonetic knowledge, awareness of print concepts, and knowledge of letters and symbols, while scores for all other students have remained relatively static. The program was also known to increase parental and family engagement in student learning. View the Executive Summary here.


Latest News

The Alaska Center for the Book singled out SHI's Baby Raven Reads book Shanyaak'utlaax̱ - Salmon Boy as the state's featured children's book at this year's National Book Festival, which ran Sept. 17-26, 2021. The festival, which is sponsored by the Library of Congress, is an annual literary event in Washington, DC, that brings together best-selling authors and thousands of book fans for author talks, panel discussions, book signings, and other activities. Every year the festival also hosts the Parade of States where each state is represented by a state library, center for the book, or humanities organization which showcases a local book or author. The board of directors chose Salmon Boy in part because it particularly fit this year's theme "Open a Book, Open the World." Read more here.


Literacy Events

Family literacy events occur 9 times a year in selected communities. 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)  


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.  

 


Awards

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.

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