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Words Worth?

is cool, and this boy doesn’t go over to a friend’s house where there are a lot of books, that culture is going to have trouble nurturing this guy’s brain to read and write. So the neurology starts them out behind. Then the nurture doesn’t understand and thinks, “Oh, they’ll pick it up later,” but maybe they won’t; and the culture is saying, “Don’t read.” And when you have malnutri- tion, that’s a socioeconomic issue that affects brain development.

SCOUTING: OK, so how can the BSA help?

M.G.: The great thing about what the BSA is going to do is raise awareness and attention, so that volunteers, parents, and teachers will have more awareness that there is something neurologi- cal going on here. We need to be aware, and we need to read the signals.

SCOUTING: What are some of those signals?

M.G.: Let’s say you have a son who when you ask him, “OK, Johnny, do you want to read a book or a magazine,” and every time you ask him he says no. That’s a signal. Or if parents see their kid spending six or more hours a day in front of screens but only maybe 15 to 20 minutes in front of a book

or a magazine or a comic book, that’s a signal.

SCOUTING: And what are the consequences of ignoring those signals?

M.G.: Boys need to be liter- ate. They need to be able to read the pill bottle. They need to be able to read what they need to read in order to succeed in the workplace. If not, I think we are going to see an increase of what we’re seeing now. We’re going to see more dropouts. We’re going to see more males who can’t get jobs. We’re going to see more males in prison and juvie. Literacy can equal success, so that you can take care of your family and become the man you want to be. That’s why I think the BSA is smart to see literacy as a part of character development and success development.

SCOUTING: And the impor- tance of reading starts early, right?

M.G.: Definitely. It’s a big brain-development thing. Do we put that little 1-year- old in front of a screen for two hours so that his brain connects five or six synapses, or should we read aloud to him for a half-hour? You know that’s going to connect thousands of synapses for memory, senses, and feelings. It’s not just about getting

better at words. It’s also about developing the brain so that he can be a more full human being.

‘Literacy can equal success, so that you can take care of your family and become the man you want to be.’

SCOUTING: Let’s go into the mind of a parent. Say she noticed her son isn’t enjoy- ing reading. How soon is too soon to worry?

M.G.: That depends on that boy’s brain. Everyone’s brain develops at different times, so they ought not worry if their 4-year-old is not reading. Figure out who this boy is. If they are worried, they can talk to a professional and get an assessment.

SCOUTING: We’ve read that so much depends on finding that right book. How does a parent find something his or her son will like?

M.G.: Look for stuff that’s active and, for the younger guys, stuff that’s visual. This often means there is a quest that has a goal, and there’s a lot of activity in the quest. There will be some fight- ing. It may have some gore, and that’s fine. That doesn’t hurt anybody; it just keeps these guys interested. All of these types of stories will show guys performing well, guys becoming men, guys growing up, or guys winning.

SCOUTING: What happens if a boy wants to quit reading a particular book?

M.G.: Well, that depends on the situation. If this is a homework assignment, he needs to finish it. The boy has a commitment to perform well at school— character development will relate to that. But if it’s something he picked up for entertainment, or his mom or dad bought for him, I wouldn’t worry about it. We don’t want the guy to hate reading.

SCOUTING: But there’s a limit, right?

M.G.: Yes. If this boy gets to Page 30 and stops 30 or 40 times, you need to start looking at ADD or a learn- ing disability. Otherwise, this is actually great. Being dis- cerning is a wonderful thing.

 2013 ¿ SCOUTING 27


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