Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI’s Baby Raven Reads program receives award for excellence in early childhood literacy

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Sealaska Heritage one of five given 2020 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska award

Oct. 8, 2020

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s (SHI) Baby Raven Reads program is one of five recipients in the state chosen for the 2020 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska award given by the Alaska Center for the Book.

The center, which is affiliated with the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book, announced that Baby Raven Reads is one of two recipients of its Sue Sherif Literacy Award for excellence in early childhood literacy.

The center gives the award to entities that highlight their area’s literary heritage and call attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy and libraries.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this recognition, as it confirms our ongoing evaluations that show Baby Raven Reads contributes to early childhood literary with the direct engagement of parents in the program,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “We believe in Baby Raven Reads, but we are humbled and gratified to know the public values our work, too.”

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. Participants also receive free books, including more than 20 culturally-relevant publications produced through the Baby Raven Reads program in recent years.

Since its inception in Juneau in 2014, Baby Raven Reads has expanded to serve 14 other communities in Southeast Alaska.

The program has received several other recognitions, including the Library of Congress’ 2017 Best Practice Honoree award and the American Indian Youth Literature’s 2018 Best Picture Book Award for SHI’s Shanyaak'utlaax: Salmon Boy given by the American Indian Library Association, which also gave SHI’s Baby Raven Reads book Raven Makes the Aleutians an AILA Picture Book Honor award in 2020. The books were illustrated by Tlingit artist Michaela Goade and Haida artist Janine Gibbons respectively.

Baby Raven Reads is funded through grants from the Alaska Native Education Program and the Administration for Native Americans.

The Alaska Center for the Book is a nonprofit founded in 1991 to stimulate public interest in literacy throughout Alaska through the spoken and written word. The Sue Sherif Literacy Award is named for a retired state librarian who spent her career advocating for children's programs.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research 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.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

Caption: Baby Raven Reads book distribution event. Photo by Nobu Koch courtesy of Sealaska Heritage. For a high-resolution image, contact News outlets are welcome to use the image in reports on this story.