Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough
Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 8 Critic Reviews



What would it take?

That was the question that Geoffrey Canada found himself asking. What would it take to change the lives of poor children—not one by one, through heroic interventions and occasional miracles, but in big numbers, and in a way that could be replicated nationwide? The question led him to create the Harlem Children’s Zone, a ninety-seven-block laboratory in central Harlem where he is testing new and sometimes controversial ideas about poverty in America. His conclusion: if you want poor kids to be able to compete with their middle-class peers, you need to change everything in their lives—their schools, their neighborhoods, even the child-rearing practices of their parents.

Whatever It Takes is a tour de force of reporting, an inspired portrait not only of Geoffrey Canada but of the parents and children in Harlem who are struggling to better their lives, often against great odds. Carefully researched and deeply affecting, this is a dispatch from inside the most daring and potentially transformative social experiment of our time.   This e-book includes a sample chapter of HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED.

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 10, 2009 by Mariner Books. 305 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Whatever It Takes

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Tough shows even the most naïve reader how difficult it is to grapple with the question of how to take an entire community of mostly disadvantaged children and mostly undereducated parents without financial resources and transform them—or at least the children as they grow—into fully functioning ...

| Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Telling poor people how to raise their children is sometimes denounced as racism or “cultural imperialism,” but Canada sees attentive, careful parenting — of the type middle-class parents read about in baby books — as the first step toward overcoming poverty.

Oct 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...


Its students do considerably worse on citywide exams during its first two years, Tough reports, than comparable kids in many regular public schools—even though, like the elementary school, the Zone's junior high commands greater financial resources, boasts a significantly longer school day and sc...

Mar 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

Christian Science Monitor

Putting a child on a “conveyor belt” might seem like a cold image.

Sep 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

New York Times journalist Tough profiles educational visionary Geoffrey Canada, whose Harlem Children's Zone—currently serving more than 7,000 children and encompassing 97 city blocks—represents an audacious effort to end poverty within underserved communities.

Jun 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...


Geoffrey Canada believes in "contamination": the idea that if enough kids want to succeed in school and in life, if enough parents buttress their efforts from day one, they will infect an entire community.

| Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

Mother Jones

Canada's strategy, as Tough puts it, is to "borrow some of the new ideas from the manic superparents downtown and combine them with the hanging-out-on-the-stoop beliefs that he grew up with" to create a new black middle class.

| Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

Palatine Public Library

Tough looks critically at Canada's program, which is based on early intervention (starting with Baby College, where parents to be and new parents are taught about the importance of educational activities from infancy as well as the negative effects of physical punishment) and then intensive suppo...

Nov 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey C...

Reader Rating for Whatever It Takes

An aggregated and normalized score based on 95 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review