As part of the Baby Raven Reads program, Sealaska Heritage Institute has released two children’s books based on the Haida culture that reflect the Native worldview.
The program is meant to promote language development and school readiness for Alaska Native families with children up to age 5.
The books, Baby Raven and Baby Eagle, teach the English and Xaad Kíl (Haida) words for clan crests. These books come on the heels of nine other culturally-based children’s books published by Sealaska Heritage Institute in 2016. The children’s books are important because so few culturally-relevant children’s books from Southeast Alaska exist that are not specifically tailored for the commercial market. Research has even shown that Native American students do better academically when their culture is incorporated into learning materials and classes, Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl pointed out in a press release.
“Studies over the past three decades have shown that Native language and culturally-responsive programs are associated with improved academic performance, decreased dropout rates and improved school attendance,” Worl said.
The Haida words in Baby Raven and Baby Eagle were edited by Benjamin Young. The clan crests were illustrated by Crystal Worl, who specializes in minimalist formline, and the Southeast Alaska environmental illustrations were done by Nobu Koch.
Sealaska Heritage Institute has plans to publish seven more children’s books this year, which will bring the series to 18 books, which are available on the organization’s website.
About Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. Sealaska Heritage Institute also conducts social scientific and public policy research and advocacy 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. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.