One of the programs Sealaska Heritage operates is Baby Raven Reads, a culturally responsive literacy, language development, and school readiness program for Alaska Native children birth (0) to five (5) years old and their families. SHI is currently seeking funding to continue the project throughout Southeast Alaska communities.
Baby Raven Reads improves kindergarten readiness for Alaska Native students and increase attitudes toward reading at home. The program develops early literacy skills while implementing cultural practices such as traditional stories, Native language learning, and activities like dance and song. Children and parents/caregivers meet throughout the year to read stories and learn about their Alaska Native culture. Sealaska Heritage has self-published over 30 titles in the program that tell and illustrate traditional stories of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people.
Baby Raven reads has had great success for early school children. A 2021 study by McKinley Research Group showed significant score gains in phonetic knowledge, awareness of print concepts, and understanding of letters and symbols. Additionally, Baby Raven Reads has facilitated a higher level of parent/caretaker involvement in student education. The program received the Best Practice Honoree award from the Library of Congress, making it one of only 15 programs in the world to receive the honor in 2017. Several Baby Raven Reads books have also received awards.