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animals, and we mentor one another multigeneration- ally. So it’s fine to have an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old. The 11-year-old will become a reading buddy to a 7-year- old, and that will organically happen.

SCOUTING: Organically, meaning no adult intervention?

M.G.: A lot of this is based on these volunteers getting

‘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.’

some kind of training so that they know how to do it. But if they know how to do it, it will organically happen. If not, the leader is trained to do some directing. If he sees a lonely 12-year-old who feels he’s bad at reading, he has to help that guy attach to this 16-year-old or 17-year-old. Let the older ones take over.

SCOUTING: How can Boys’ Life magazine serve as a tool to pique boys’ interest in reading?

M.G.: Boys’ Life, at so many levels, is just perfect for this.

One, the magazine’s inte- grated into Scouting, so it’s set up around the advance- ment system. The challenge is getting the volunteers to encourage the kids and their families to subscribe and see the benefits.

SCOUTING: What will they see?

M.G.: They’ll see that the visuals in it are really good. That there are stories about rafting trips and things that are active. They’ll see heroes, and that’s what these boys want as they try to become men. Boys’ Life has comics. It has jokes. It’s perfectly set up for the diverse interests of a diverse group of boys.

SCOUTING: Are there some specific strategies for how leaders can make reading the magazine a priority?

M.G.: Use Boys’ Life as the thing the boy is going to need to read for 20 minutes. Let’s say we have a reluctant reader, and he’s 7. He’s going for TV and video games, but he’s not reading. That worries us, and it should. We need a tool. We could go get him Harry Potter, but that might be too complex for him. So why don’t we just give him Boys’ Life? He can read one of the articles aloud with his parent, trading off paragraphs. The parent can also use it for a discussion about something active. Take an article on a baseball player who made a tough choice. At dinner, you talk to your son and say, “Did he do the right thing, or did he not do the right thing?” That’s active use of the magazine as a mecha- nism. So you’re using Boys’ Life for critical thinking.

SCOUTING: Could those kinds of discussions happen at troop meetings, as well?

M.G.: Absolutely. And with troops, they can act it out. Give them a Boys’ Life story and give them a half-hour to act it out. Kids just love this in schools, and there is no reason that volunteers can’t do it.

SCOUTING: So reading doesn’t have to be sedentary?

M.G.: No. A boy can carry the book with him while he paces, or, if someone’s reading to him, he can walk around or roll on the floor. Any place where he could integrate the book to physical movement is great. His nature is to run around at age 7, and reading feels to him like not running around. We need to integrate it with movement.

SCOUTING: Where do tablets and e-readers fit in?

M.G.: That depends on the kid. If you have a boy who’s already a good reader, and he’s doing well socially, emotionally, etc., he’ll most likely figure things out himself. It’s the reluctant reader that I am more inter- ested in talking with parents about boundaries, such as how long is he actually reading? Is he really reading that Harry Potter on there, or is he doing something else? If he’s reading, then the tablet is having the same effect as a book. When we say screen time, generally we’re worried about passive activities like games. ¿

BRYAN WENDELL is Scouting magazine’s Senior Editor. And JOHN R. CLARK is Scouting magazine’s Managing Editor.

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LEARN MORE ideas from Gurian about promoting lit- eracy among boys during an exclusive video at scouting


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