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Reading Merit Badge Helps and Documents

The Reading merit badge in Scouts BSA is a wonderful opportunity for scouts to delve into the world of literature, libraries, and the joy of reading.

The reading merit badge emblem

One of the key components of the Reading merit badge is exploring books and libraries to discover the wealth of resources available to them. They learn how to navigate card catalogs and understand the organizational systems used in libraries. By exploring different sections and genres, scouts are exposed to a wide range of literary works, expanding their horizons and igniting their imagination.

In addition to exploring libraries, scouts are also required to read several books as part of the merit badge requirements. This encourages scouts to develop a reading habit and discover the joy of immersing themselves in captivating stories. Through reading, scouts enhance their vocabulary, improve their comprehension skills, and develop a deeper understanding of different cultures and perspectives.

However, the Reading merit badge goes beyond personal growth. It emphasizes the importance of service and sharing the joy of reading with others. Scouts are encouraged to engage in service projects related to reading, such as reading to children or individuals with disabilities. By volunteering their time and talents, scouts not only make a positive impact on the lives of others but also cultivate a sense of empathy and compassion.

Answers and Helps

Where Can I Find the Answers for the Reading Merit Badge?

Find specific helps for the Reading merit badge requirements listed on this page. Some of these resources will just give example answers. Others will provide background information to help you understand the questions.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 1: Libraries

Do EACH of the following:
1-a. Take a tour of a library. Discuss with your counselor how the library is organized and what resources and/or services are offered in the library.
1-b. Learn how to search a library’s card catalog or computerized catalog by author, title, and subject.
1-c. In a library, search the card catalog or computerized catalog for six books of four different types, such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and biographies.
1-d. With the assistance of your merit badge counselor or the librarian, see if you can locate on the shelves the six books you selected.
1-e. Explain what is a library card, why it is needed, and how to get one.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 1 Helps and Answers

How Are Libraries Organized?

Libraries are typically organized in a way that makes it easy for people to find the books they are looking for. They use a system called classification to arrange books in specific categories or sections. The most commonly used classification system in libraries is the Dewey Decimal System.

The Dewey Decimal System assigns a unique number to each subject area. It divides knowledge into ten main classes, represented by numbers from 000 to 999. Each main class is further divided into subcategories using additional numbers and decimal points. For example, the 100s section is about philosophy and psychology, while the 500s section is about natural sciences.

Within each section, books are arranged in numerical order based on their specific subject. For example, books about dinosaurs would be found in the 567 section, while books about space exploration might be in the 629 section. This system helps librarians and library users quickly locate books on specific topics.

In addition to the Dewey Decimal System, libraries may also have separate sections for fiction and non-fiction books. Fiction books, such as novels and short stories, are often organized alphabetically by the last name of the author. Non-fiction books, which cover a wide range of topics, are usually arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System.

Libraries may also use other methods of organization, such as color-coded labels or special sections for new releases or popular titles. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to find the books they are interested in and to create a welcoming and organized space for learning and exploration.

What Is the Purpose of a Library Card?

A library card serves as a key to access the resources and services offered by a library. It is a personal identification card that allows individuals to borrow books, use library computers, access digital materials, and enjoy various other library services.

The primary purpose of a library card is to establish an individual’s membership and eligibility to use the library’s resources. When someone applies for a library card, they provide their personal information and address, which allows the library to keep track of who is borrowing materials and ensure that they are returned. This helps maintain the library’s collection and ensures fair access to resources for all users.

With a library card, individuals can check out books, magazines, audiobooks, and other materials for a specified period of time. This allows them to take materials home and enjoy them at their convenience. Library cards may also provide access to online databases, e-books, e-magazines, and other digital resources, expanding the range of materials available to cardholders.

Library cards often come with additional benefits and privileges. For example, cardholders may be able to reserve books, request interlibrary loans, attend library programs and events, use study rooms or meeting spaces, access Wi-Fi, and more. Some libraries may also offer special perks or discounts in collaboration with local businesses or cultural institutions.

Ultimately, the purpose of a library card is to facilitate and encourage the use of library resources, promote literacy, and support lifelong learning. It grants individuals access to a wide range of information, entertainment, and educational materials, empowering them to explore, discover, and engage with the world of knowledge that libraries offer.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 2: Favorite Books

Do EACH of the following:
2-a. Identify a book you have enjoyed. Find out what other books the author has written.
2-b. Look at one or more “best books” lists. These can be based on year, subject, or even all time. Identify at least one book you would like to read.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 2 Helps and Answers

Books by the Same Author

If a person enjoys a book and wants to find other books written by the same author, there are a few ways to do so:

  • Author’s Website or Social Media: Many authors have their own websites or social media profiles where they share information about their books, upcoming releases, and related works. Visiting the author’s official website or following them on platforms like Twitter or Instagram can provide valuable insights into their other works.
  • Library Catalog: Checking the library catalog is a great way to find books by a specific author. Using the author’s name as a search term, you can explore their other titles available in the library’s collection. Librarians are also knowledgeable and can assist in finding additional books by the author.
  • Online Bookstores: Online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or independent bookstore websites have author pages that list all the books by a particular author. Browsing through these platforms using the author’s name can help identify their other works.
  • Book Series or Trilogies: If the book is part of a series or trilogy, it’s likely that the author has written other books in the same series. Looking for information about the series can lead to discovering additional books by the author.

Book Lists

To find a “best books” list, students can try the following methods:

  • Online Book Recommendations: Websites like Goodreads, BookBub, and LibraryThing offer book recommendations and user-generated lists based on genres, themes, and reader ratings. Exploring these platforms can provide students with curated lists of popular and highly-rated books.
  • Award Lists: Many literary awards recognize outstanding books in various categories. Examples include the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Awards, or the Newbery Medal (for children’s literature). Checking award-winning books can be a good starting point for finding high-quality reads.
  • Book Review Websites: Websites like The New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, or Booklist publish book reviews and compile lists of recommended reads. Scouts can search these platforms for book recommendations and lists curated by experts.
  • School or Public Library Recommendations: Librarians often create recommended reading lists tailored to different age groups and interests. Scouts can ask their school or public librarians for suggestions or browse the library’s website for curated book lists.

Remember, personal recommendations from friends, teachers, or family members who share similar reading interests can also be a valuable source for finding great books to read for the Reading merit badge.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 3: Discussion

Read four different types of books, such as poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or biographies. Do any ONE of the following for each book you have read:
3-a. Write a review of the book. Include what you liked/didn’t like about the book. Include if you would recommend this book, and if so, who might enjoy reading it.
3-b. Watch a movie based on the book. What was the same between the book and movie? What was different? Which did you enjoy more? Discuss this with your merit badge counselor.
3-c. Give a “book talk” to your class, troop, or patrol.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 3 Helps and Answers

Tips for Writing a Book Review for the Reading Merit Badge

  • Start with a Hook: Begin your review with an engaging hook that captures the reader’s attention. It could be a thought-provoking question, a powerful quote from the book, or a brief summary that sparks curiosity.
  • Provide Context: Give some background information about the book, such as the author, genre, and any relevant details that will help the reader understand the book’s context.
  • Summarize the Plot: Provide a concise summary of the book’s plot without giving away major spoilers. Focus on the key events and main characters, highlighting what makes the story compelling.
  • Share Your Thoughts: Express your opinion on the book, explaining what you liked and didn’t like. Support your opinions with specific examples from the book, such as memorable scenes, well-developed characters, or engaging writing style.
  • Be Balanced and Constructive: Offer a balanced perspective by acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses of the book. If there are areas that you found lacking, provide constructive criticism rather than simply being negative.
  • Consider the Target Audience: Keep in mind the intended audience of the book when writing your review. Mention whether you think the book is suitable for certain age groups or readers with specific interests.
  • Use Engaging Language: Make your review engaging by using descriptive and vivid language. Use quotes or passages from the book to illustrate your points and create a sense of connection between your review and the reader.

Tips for Giving a Book Talk for the Reading Merit Badge

  1. Begin with a Hook: Start your book talk with an attention-grabbing hook, such as an intriguing question, a captivating quote, or a brief anecdote related to the book.
  2. Provide a Synopsis: Give a concise summary of the book’s plot, introducing the main characters, setting, and conflict. Be careful not to reveal major spoilers that might spoil the reading experience for your audience.
  3. Highlight Key Themes: Discuss the main themes or messages conveyed in the book. Explain how the author explores these themes and why they are important or thought-provoking.
  4. Share Your Enthusiasm: Convey your enthusiasm for the book by expressing what you enjoyed most about it. Discuss specific elements that stood out, such as engaging writing style, memorable characters, or unexpected plot twists.
  5. Read Aloud Excerpts: Select a few well-crafted passages from the book that showcase the author’s writing style, the book’s atmosphere, or a particularly impactful moment. Read these excerpts aloud to bring the book to life for your audience.
  6. Engage the Audience: Encourage audience participation by asking questions or inviting them to share their thoughts and opinions about the book. This creates a dynamic and interactive atmosphere during your book talk.
  7. Be Mindful of Time: Keep your book talk within a reasonable time limit, ensuring you cover the key points while leaving time for questions or discussions. Practice beforehand to ensure you stay on track and make the most of your allocated time.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 4: How To

Read a nonfiction book or magazine that teaches you how to do something like cooking, wood-building projects, video game design, science experiments, knot-tying, etc. With your counselor’s and parent’s or guardian’s permission, complete a project from the book. Share your experience with your merit badge counselor. Reading a merit badge pamphlet will not count toward completing this requirement.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 4 Helps and Answers

When undertaking the task of reading a nonfiction book or magazine that teaches you how to do something for the Reading merit badge, consider the following suggestions and tips:

  1. Select a Topic of Interest: Choose a nonfiction book or magazine that aligns with your passions or something you’ve always wanted to learn. It could be cooking, woodworking, coding, science experiments, crafts, or any other skill that captivates your interest.
  2. Plan and Prepare: Read the chosen book or magazine thoroughly, paying attention to instructions, safety guidelines, and any specific techniques or concepts. Make a plan outlining the project’s steps, required materials, and estimated timeframe.
  3. Gather Resources and Materials: Collect all the resources and materials needed for the project. This may include ingredients, tools, equipment, or any other supplies mentioned in the instructions. Seek assistance from your parents or guardian in acquiring the necessary items.
  4. Follow Instructions Carefully: While working on the project, carefully follow the instructions provided in the book or magazine. Take your time to understand each step and ensure you are progressing correctly. If there are any terms or techniques you don’t understand, seek clarification from your counselor or other reliable sources.
  5. Exercise Safety Measures: Prioritize safety throughout the project. Adhere to any safety guidelines mentioned in the book or magazine. If necessary, use appropriate safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, or aprons. Seek adult supervision and assistance when handling potentially hazardous materials or tools.
  6. Document Your Progress: Keep a record of your project as you work on it. Take photos, make notes, or create a journal documenting each step, challenges faced, and lessons learned. This will be helpful when discussing your project with your counselor later.
  7. Seek Assistance When Needed: Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you encounter difficulties or have questions along the way. Reach out to your counselor, parents, or other knowledgeable individuals who can provide guidance and support.
  8. Complete the Project: Take the project to completion following the instructions and guidelines provided. Double-check your work and make any necessary adjustments or refinements.
  9. Reflect and Discuss: Once you’ve completed the project, take time to reflect on your experience. Consider what you learned, any new skills acquired, and how the project contributed to your personal growth. Discuss your achievements, challenges, and insights with your counselor during a follow-up conversation.

Remember, the process of learning is just as important as the final outcome. Embrace the opportunity to explore new skills, broaden your knowledge, and develop a sense of accomplishment through your hands-on experience.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 5: The World Around Us

Read about the world around you from any two sources: books, magazines, newspapers, the internet (with your parent’s or guardian’s permission), field manuals, etc. Topics may include Scouting, sports, environmental problems, politics, social issues, current events, nature, religion, etc. Discuss what you have learned with your counselor.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 5 Helps and Answers

When it comes to reading about the world around you from various sources and discussing your findings with your counselor, consider the following tips:

  1. Diversify Your Sources: Choose two different sources for your reading material to gain a broader perspective. It could be a book, a magazine, a newspaper, an online news website, a reputable blog, or even field manuals related to your selected topics. By exploring different sources, you expose yourself to various viewpoints and increase your understanding of the subjects you’re interested in.
  2. Select Engaging Topics: Pick topics that genuinely interest you and align with your curiosity. It could be Scouting-related subjects, sports, environmental problems, politics, social issues, current events, nature, religion, or any other subjects that pique your interest. When you’re passionate about the topics, you’ll likely be more engaged in your reading and discussions.
  3. Take Notes and Annotate: As you read, take notes or annotate important points, interesting facts, and quotes that stand out to you. This will help you remember key details and facilitate your discussion with your counselor. Jot down any questions or thoughts that arise during your reading as well.
  4. Reflect on the Material: After reading from each source, take some time to reflect on what you have learned. Consider the main themes, ideas, or arguments presented in the material. Think about how the information impacts your understanding of the world and the topics you explored.
  5. Prepare Talking Points: Organize your thoughts and create talking points based on the topics you read about. Identify the main takeaways, key facts, and any opinions or questions that arose during your reading. This will help you have a structured and meaningful discussion with your counselor.
  6. Be Curious and Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask your counselor for further clarification or additional resources related to the topics you explored. Seek their guidance to deepen your understanding and expand your knowledge on the subject matter.

By following these tips for the Reading merit badge, you will enhance your knowledge about the world, develop critical thinking skills, and engage in meaningful discussions with your counselor, further enriching your Scouting experience.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 6: The World Around Us

With your counselor’s and parent’s or guardian’s permission, choose ONE of the following activities and devote at least four hours of service to that activity. Discuss your participation with your counselor.
6-a. Read to a sick, blind, or homebound person in a hospital or in an extended-care facility.
6-b. Perform volunteer work at your school library or a public library.
6-c. Read stories to younger children, in a group or individually.
6-d. Organize a book swap in your troop, school, or place of worship.
6-e. Organize a book drive to collect books. Donate them to an organization in need.

Reading Merit Badge Requirement 6 Helps and Answers

Reading to Others for the Reading Merit Badge

  • Contact hospitals, care facilities, or organizations in your community to inquire about opportunities to read to individuals in need. Or coordinate with schools, daycare centers, or community organizations to arrange storytelling sessions for younger children.
  • Prepare appropriate reading material that matches the interests and needs of the people you will be reading to.
  • When reading to children, use expressive and animated storytelling techniques to make the experience enjoyable for the children.
  • Show empathy, compassion, and patience while reading. Be attentive to the needs and preferences of the person you are reading to.
  • Reflect on your experience and discuss with your counselor how this service activity impacted you and the individuals you read to.

Organizing a Book Drive or Book Swap for the Reading Merit Badge

  • Seek permission from the appropriate authority to organize a book swap event. For a book drive, Identify an organization or community in need of books, such as schools, shelters, or community centers.
  • Promote the event by creating flyers, announcements, community bulletin boards, or social media posts.
  • For a book swap, set up a system for participants to bring and exchange books of their choice.
  • For a book drive, set up collection points and coordinate logistics for collecting, sorting, and delivering the donated books.
  • Reflect on the importance of sharing and exchanging books, fostering a love for reading, and how the book swap or book drive benefited participants.


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