How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

75%

28 Critic Reviews

The author has followed some of urban America's poorest young people...and revealing how their teachers are compensating for the missing investment in their early years by fostering what Tough sums up as "character".
-Guardian

Synopsis

“Drop the flashcards—grit, character, and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills. A persuasive wake-up call.”—People

Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

“Illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”—New York Times

“I learned so much reading this book and I came away full of hope about how we can make life better for all kinds of kids.”—Slate
 

About Paul Tough

See more books from this Author
PAUL TOUGH is an editor at the New York Times Magazine and one of America's foremost writers on poverty, education, and the achievement gap. His reporting on Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone originally appeared as a Times Magazine cover story. He lives with his wife in New York City.
 
Published September 4, 2012 by Mariner Books. 256 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Science & Math, Parenting & Relationships, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 14 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for How Children Succeed
All: 28 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Excellent
on Aug 10 2012

Well-written and bursting with ideas, this will be essential reading for anyone who cares about childhood in America.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Nov 06 2014

Personal narratives of administrators, teachers, students, single mothers, and scientists lend support to the extensive scientific studies Tough uses to discuss a new, character-based learning approach.

Read Full Review of How Children Succeed: Grit, C... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by ANNIE MURPHY PAUL on Aug 23 2012

Though the title “How Children Succeed” makes the book sound like an instruction manual for parents, it’s really a guide to the ironies and perversities of income inequality in America.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Geraldine Brennan on Jan 20 2013

The author has followed some of urban America's poorest young people...and revealing how their teachers are compensating for the missing investment in their early years by fostering what Tough sums up as "character".

Read Full Review of How Children Succeed: Grit, C... | See more reviews from Guardian

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Dr Joseph S Maresca on Jun 16 2013

...an important educational resource on child development which every parent and educator should read.

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The Economist

Good
on Jan 19 2013

After decades of failed efforts to improve the lives of poor students, Mr Tough has written a fine and provocative book about the kind of work that seems to be making a difference.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Judith Woods on Jan 08 2013

...despite its populist title, How Children Succeed by the American journalist Paul Tough isn’t a manual, but a reflective examination of this highly polarised status quo, ballasted by science and case studies that reveal high IQ alone is no guarantee of success.

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Huffington Post

Good
Reviewed by Linda Flanagan on Oct 26 2012

How Children Succeed leans on science and research to reach its conclusions, but the book sings because of its humanity.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Judy Bolton-Fasman on Sep 21 2012

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, rises to the top of the parenting book pile for its deep exploration of failure and the ways in which it builds character in our kids.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Natalie Wexler

...it’s not obvious from this book exactly what teachers and school systems should do to implement Tough’s findings. It’s clearly not enough to festoon the halls with slogans like “Work Hard” and “Be Nice.”

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Seattle PI

Good
Reviewed by Dr Joseph S Maresca on Jun 15 2013

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough is an important educational resource on child development which every parent and educator should read. Educators need to read this book carefully because academic success has a considerable behavioral component which transcends what teachers teach in classrooms.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Claudia Gold on Sep 03 2012

He is bringing this issue to the forefront of public discussion. I am thrilled to be in the company of Tough

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Cleveland.com

Above average
Reviewed by James F. Sweeney on Sep 04 2012

"How to Succeed" takes readers on a high-speed tour of experimental schools and new research, all peppered with anecdotes about disadvantaged youths overcoming the odds, and affluent students meeting enough resistance to develop character strengths.

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Mother Jones

Excellent
Reviewed by Deanna Pan on Sep 03 2012

Tough mines the literature and powwows with scientists, high school principals, and a middle-school chess team to show why it's likely these "noncognitive" skills, not measures like IQ, matter most.

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Englewood Review of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Joshua Neds-Fox on Dec 21 2012

The contents, however, are hardly partisan; instead, Tough delivers a highly compassionate exploration of strategies to help impoverished children overcome the limitations of their circumstances.

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Birmingham Public Library

Above average
on Sep 27 2012

He tells amazing stories of how community members and children work to avoid failure and push toward a brighter future.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Joseph Cotto on Nov 28 2012

...any social or financial observer, as well as those who are compelled by human-interest stories, would be wise to hear what Tough has to say.

Read Full Review of How Children Succeed: Grit, C... | See more reviews from Washington Times

The Nation

Below average
Reviewed by Helen Epstein on Nov 14 2012

Kewauna’s story and those of other young people in Tough’s book are inspiring, but missing from the narrative is a discussion of where all this brain-damaging stress came from in the first place.

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Washington Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by Thomas Toch

an engaging book that casts the school reform debate in a provocative new light.

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The Economic Times

Above average
on Sep 21 2012

The book illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it's a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.

Read Full Review of How Children Succeed: Grit, C...

Devourer of Books

Good
on Oct 26 2012

As far as the issue of school reform goes, How Children Succeed reports ideas from some of the leading lights in today’s movement and comes up with some very interesting ideas, many of which do seem to have the potential to effect great change.

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First Friday Book Synopsis

Good
Reviewed by Bob Morris on Oct 24 2012

I share Paul Tough’s hope that those who read his book will follow Elizabeth Siegel’s example by seizing every opportunity to provide children with “the unexpected experience of someone taking them seriously, believing in their abilities, and challenging them to improve themselves.”

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Cozy Little Book Journal

Below average
on Mar 01 2013

This book would be depressing if it weren't so ridiculous. His ultimate conclusion about why some children succeed and others don't? An intangible quality that we can't really define and don't understand how to teach but probably is either learned, acquired or inherited..or none of those. Great. Thanks.

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800-ceo-read

Above average
on Aug 10 2012

...his book provides a unique perspective on how successful people are formed. After all, every notable figure in the world of business was once a child.

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bigWOWO

Good
Reviewed by bigWOWO on Oct 05 2013

Overall, I think people will find this book interesting. If you have kids or are working in education, you’ll find this book interesting.

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The Reader's Refuge

Below average
Reviewed by Michelle on Jan 15 2013

After reading this book, I have not learned anything new that I didn’t already know as a parent. I felt this book was written to motivate educators in the field and not as a helpful tool for parents.

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Purple Car

Good
Reviewed by Christine Cavalier on Sep 17 2012

How Children Succeed is pretty compelling. Tough is a seasoned writer. He frames the dry research with rich profiles of educators and academics. His stories of students affected by these programs pull at your heartstrings.

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https://thequietvoice18.wordpress.com

Excellent
on May 09 2013

Overall, I would highly recommend How Children Succeed to anyone interested in education, psychology, and children. One of the best works of nonfiction I’ve read!

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Reader Rating for How Children Succeed
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