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Literacy Matters: Tips for Promoting Literacy Among Scouts

The BSA’s mission to help boys be “Prepared. For Life.®” is directly correlated with the need for literacy in America and precisely why the BSA incorporates literacy into so much of our program.

Reading, writing, and speaking intersect with everything in life: character development, emotional intelligence, and physical fitness. Reading is essential for successful brain development in children, and stories help build character and emotional development.

To help shed some light on this important cause, Michael Gurian—the New York Times bestselling author of 26 books on a range of developmental topics, and co-founder of The Gurian InstituteExternal Link—has penned an article about the literacy challenge facing boys.

Tips for promoting literacy among Scouts (from Kent York, Northern Lights Council):

  • Conduct a major push on the Reading merit badge (maybe some special patch/merit badge design during the Scouting literacy campaign that would result in increased activity like the Eagle Scout centennial did).
  • Involve older Scouts in taking on service projects that would have them reading/mentoring other Scouts and/or school students in earlier grades.
  • Incorporate reading/literacy into Scouting program elements such as the Scoutmaster’s minute at the end of each troop meeting. What if he/she read a short story or serial story?
  • Incorporate reading more into the meetings themselves by asking Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts to bring a favorite book to a meeting, giving them time to hold it up and tell why others may want to read it (or even a lending library within the troop beyond merit badge books).
  • Have Scouting leaders do the same with a favorite book they enjoyed when they were growing up.
  • Have a portion of an exciting short story read at each meeting.
  • Book drives are popular projects, but in addition to encouraging collecting books for those who can’t afford them, perhaps they could go beyond that to work with/for schools whose budgets have been cut for libraries and youth books.
  • Remember that e-books are a good way for kids to spend quality screen time. Maybe have e-readers available within the units that could be borrowed, loading them with good books for our Scouts (resources, nonfiction, and fiction).


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