This section is from the book "Scouting For Rural Boys. A Manual For Leaders", by Boy scouts of America. See also: Outdoor Adventure Manual: Essential Scouting Skills for the Great Outdoors.
The various survey reports of rural boys and young men reveal reading as one of their desired free time activities and recreations. Other rural studies have indicated that the "average" and "under-average" rural homes had very few books and magazines in them. Therefore, in seeking to help rural boys, as Scouts, it is our duty to help them find good reading. In this, we are not only assisting the Scout but we are serving his home circle as well, for any literature entering the rural home will be read by all of the family.
In addition to the two facts just cited-"much reading" and "relatively few books"-the fact is there is no group in America which has as much free and as much inexpensive literature in the form of bulletins and circulars prepared for them by government and private agencies.
The rural home is somewhat unique as it is the one American family group with all members tied closely into its industry, the farm. From most other homes, the earners go forth leaving the home behind and returning to it after the day's work-the farm home is the social center and the business office of the farm industry, as well as the many interests of a home.
For this reason, literature relating to farming means even more in the farm home than literature on law, medicine, and merchandising means to the men and families in these lines. The same background underlies the demand for the large number of Merit Badge Pamphlets in rural subjects, made available to rural Boy Scouts.
The United States Department of Agriculture, the State Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, and the State Departments of Agriculture have issued extensive literature bearing upon farming operations and the various farm crops, as well as relating to the operations of the home and all of its social, economic and educational interests.
In the various farm journals, there appear regular announcements of new books issued by various publishing houses as relating to farm life. Manufacturers of farm equipment often make available books and pamphlets. Rural sociology has been advancing rapidly in recent years and numerous social studies of rural life have been added to our available rural literature for Scouters and leaders.
In addition to literature dealing with farm interests, it is important that reading by rural people should include general information of value on cultural and citizenship matters essential to a balanced living.
The reading of the rural Scout then should properly include many general types such as:
1. Literature on the home and the business of farming and crops.
2. General current events to keep abreast of political and economic news-via the newspapers.
3. Hobby literature.
A FEW MOMENTS FOR GOOD READING
4. Fiction, biography, travel, literature both old and recent, magazines-including BOYS' LIFE, the famous Scout magazine for boys.
5. Religious literature of various kinds.
6. Books and publications on science, nature and history.
The Reading Committee of the 1930 White House Conference on Child Health and Protection reported that to get young people to read good literature the chief factor was to make it accessible-so they could easily and quickly get at it. What then are some of the sources through which the rural boys may get access to the better class of reading matter?
1. By regular purchase from book sellers, book catalogs and Scout literature catalogs, or by gifts from family or friends-thus starting the ownership of a personal library.
2. By purchase or gift from various governmental departments and research agencies.
3. By loan from public libraries, county libraries, county circulating libraries, bookmobiles, libraries of consolidated or other public schools, university or state agricultural college libraries, state libraries, as well as from the libraries of friends (many people are careless about returning borrowed books -the Scout book borrower will be honest and prompt). Scout councils or Scout district organizations have sometimes made available a Scout chest or library of books which was passed around to various Scouts and groups in rotation.
When a book is borrowed, the first step should be to cover it with good quality wrapping paper, so as to protect it while in care of Scout.
Borrowed books should never be marked. One's own books probably may be marked if desired, thus enabling one to reidentify some exceptional passages involving agreement or disagreement. This practice encourages the rereading of important books.
Next to people, books are our greatest potential infiuencers. They record ideas in permanent form- available-awaiting our time and pleasure. The great spirits of the ages-Plato, Moses, Caesar, Paul of Tarsus-these and a thousand more, live today for us in their writings. The wisdom of Solomon, Socrates, or Epictetus is of record-any time one can spend an hour with them. They stand in waiting on reading tables and shelves of libraries.
The great ideas and idealists of all time are thus "captured" for us.
Burbank met Darwin in a little New England library-that meeting started young Burbank. He developed an early potato. He sold it, and with those funds and a dozen of the potatoes he migrated to California.
Lincoln, a generation before, had found great ideas in a half dozen books. And so the story goes as we record the biographies of great Americans. A college or university introduces the young man to the great of all ages as recorded in their books and biographical records. An agricultural college introduces the young farmer to the experiments and findings of agricultural research as recorded in the various publications; all these help him to understand the method and know something of possible results to be obtained.
The precious free time of a rural boy-a half hour here, another there-invested in a planned reading program can determine a life's direction and help a boy find his way to happiness and success.
Training Courses therefore should stress reading, as should the District Commissioner and his staff in their contacts with the Scouts^ in Tribes, Neighborhood Patrols and Lone Scouts as well as in town or village Troops.