Phone: 907.793.3575 or Toll-free: 800.764.3382 |tcf@thecirifoundation.org

Education Project Grant- Early Language & Literacy for Alaska Native Children

Early Language & Literacy for Alaska Native Children

Grantee: Best Beginnings, Story by Amie Collins

Kindergarten readiness starts with reading. Research shows that children who have access to book and are read to from birth will have greater academic success. Best Beginnings is partnering with numerous organizations to improve the likelihood of success in kindergarten for Alaska Native children living in Anchorage.

With funding support from The CIRI Foundation, Best Beginnings was able to work with Alaska Native Medical Center, the Nutaqsiivik Nurse-Family Partnership, Cook Inlet Native Head Start and Clare Swan Early Head Start to enroll children in the Anchorage Imagination Library. The Anchorage Imagination Library is a program of Best Beginnings that delivers high quality, age-appropriate books to a child in their home each month from birth to age 5.

In addition to providing books in the home to over 1,000 Alaska Native children, Imagination Library families are invited together for enrichment activities that bring the books to life with fun, educational play and social emotional learning. In February we explored literacy and science with the title Shh! Bear’s Sleeping in partnership with the Campbell Creek Science Center. Families learned about hibernation, Alaska animals they might find in the wild of southcentral, and got to pick up even more books at our book swap. Children put their gross and fine motor skills to use doing arts, crafts, and activities.

During our group storytimes, you can see the joy on each child’s face as they watch our storyteller read their favorite book wide-eyed with awe. And parents always take a minute to express their gratitude for the extra take-home activities and opportunity to gather. One family told us, “These events are our favorite ones in town. I wish they happened weekly!”

When COVID-19 put a pause to our in-person programming we were challenged to take these experiences online in a way that families could easily do them at home. Our first virtual camp for families, Little Learners, was so popular that we hosted two more, serving over 75 families in a short period of time.

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Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences.