Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 1st, 2022

Institute to partner with the Alaska Native Heritage Center

(Enroll) (Baby Raven Reads Books)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) is expanding its award-winning early literacy program, Baby Raven Reads, to Anchorage through a partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC).

Through the expansion, SHI and ANHC will offer the program for one year to Alaska Native families with children ages 5 and under in Anchorage, and participating families will receive 9 Baby Raven Reads books and kits plus invitations to family literacy events.

“Southeast Alaska is the ancient homeland of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian, but many of our people live outside of the region, and more than 2,000 reside in Anchorage. We are grateful to our partner, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, for helping us to make this expansion possible,” said SHI President Rosita Worl.

The partnership between ANHC and SHI is a perfect match, said ANHC President and CEO Emily Edenshaw.

“We’ve been envisioning an expansion of this remarkable program for our statewide community for many years, and we are grateful for the opportunity to promote early literacy through cultural stories and reading sessions at our facility. This project fits right into our expanding suite of cultural programs, which is only made possible through strong partnerships. We are stronger together and are so excited to partner with SHI,” she said.

Families may enroll now online.

The expansion was funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant also is funding the continuation of the program in Craig and Wrangell. 

About Baby Raven Reads

Baby Raven Reads improves early literacy skills by translating cultural strengths into home literacy practices and incorporating culturally familiar terms and images into books. 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 revealed that Native children who participated in the 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.

Baby Raven Reads was recognized in 2017 by the Library of Congress, which gave SHI a 2017 Best Practice Honoree award. In 2018, the American Indian Library Association awarded SHI’s book Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy its American Indian Youth Literature Best Picture Book Award, and in 2020 it gave Raven Makes the Aleutians a AILA Picture Book Honor award. In 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.

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: Kathy Dye, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,

Caption: Photo of Baby Raven Reads students by Brian Wallace, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. Note: news outlets are welcome to use this photo for coverage of this story. For a higher-res version, contact

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