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Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America Paperback – December 10, 1998


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Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America + Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (December 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807023175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807023174
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #605,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The president and CEO of the Rheedlen Centers for Children Families, an award-winning child-advocacy agency, Canada (Fist Stick Knife Gun, LJ 5/15/95) grew up on tough South Bronx streets, where he witnessed friends dying by the handful. Recounting his childhood at midlife, he powerfully depicts what children face in today's world, especially the crippling problems of African American boys. Canada asserts that we are facing a crisis situation; gender stress, misperceptions of the male role, and male myths have led many young men on a path to self-destruction. The author emphasizes the necessity of building strong father-son bonds to help boys reach manhood and to perpetuate good father instincts. His book answers the tough questions: "How did things get like this?" and "What can we do?" Recommended for all libraries.?Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Libs., Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A call to assist boys in their treacherous journey to adulthood rings briefly with truth. Canada (Fist Stick Knife Gun, 1995) obviously knows what he is talking about when it comes to young men in the inner city. Raised in the South Bronx, he is now president of the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, an organization employing and guiding urban kids, and ``father'' to four boys he thinks of as sons beyond his own son and stepson. But in this slender volume of home truths, he seems to squander the opportunity to really enlighten readers with his specific experience, opting instead for therapeutic homilies on often familiar themes. In chapters illustrating topics like ``Self-Worth,'' ``Sex,'' and ``Work,'' Canada compares parable-like stories of his own adolescence, suffused with hindsight, with vignettes in the lives of the boys he now helps. In their affectionately deadpan style, they almost become Bill Cosbyesque riffs on the foibles of adolescent boys and their bemused but sage dads. Except, of course, that too many of today's boys don't have the fathers around to be bemused or sage--a moral tacked on in pleas for adult participation in boys' lives, briefly formulated as what ``we as a society must do.'' None of his exhortations is by any means wrong, but given the forces of social fragmentation that have denuded these boys' lives to begin with, the questions of how in the world ``what must be done'' can be, and who the ``we'' to do it really will be, dwarf Canada's earnestness. The Rheedlen programs, to which he occasionally refers, seem to be an interesting example of some ``we'' in action, but we only get a passing glimpse. Useful, at most, as a very basic primer in the reality lived by today's boys; that such an elementary consciousness-raising may be needed, Canada can't be faulted for. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Geoffrey Canada grew up in the South Bronx. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bowdoin College and a Master's Degree in Education from the Harvard School of Education. Since 1990, he has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children's Zone, an organization that offers a comprehensive range of services in a nearly 100 block area in Central Harlem and serves over 10,000 children. The New York Times Magazine called the Zone Project "... one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time. It combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood ... The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through."

The work of Mr. Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Mr. Canada is featured in the 2010 documentary Waiting for "Superman". Their work has been featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "60 Minutes," "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "Nightline," "CBS This Morning," "The Charlie Rose Show," National Public Radio's "On Point," as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and Newsday.

Mr. Canada was a recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994. In 2004, he was given the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education and Child Magazine's Children's Champion Award. In October 2005, Mr. Canada was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report. A third-degree black belt, Mr. Canada continues to teach the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth along with anti-violence and conflict-resolution techniques.

Mr. Canada is also the East Coast Regional Coordinator for the Black Community Crusade for Children. The Crusade is a nationwide effort to make saving black children the top priority in the black community. This initiative is coordinated by Marian Wright Edelman and the Children's Defense Fund.

The National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol called Mr. Canada, "One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation."

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Carolee Kallmann, Lpc on December 13, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Reaching Up for Manhood is an excellent guide for the layperson as to the psychology behind the "cult of macho," by which so many youth are raised. Just as the author, Geoffrey Canada, points out, that today's fashions, be it sneakers or designer clothing, often originate in the inner city, so, too, has the inner city become a trend-setter in attitudes, which eventually pervade our entire culture. Consequently, this book is also important for those who are either parents of, or work with, middle class youth. Although the book is about boys, it is important reading for those concerned with girls to better understand the interaction between the sexes. The weakness of Canada's book is that it is too concerned with life in the "street" during his own adolescence, some 25 years ago. It would have been preferable to eliminate some of his own reminiscing and include more current anecdotes. On the other hand, Canada's style renders the book very intimate, as well as easily and quickly readable
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Newman on April 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
In Reaching Up for Manhood, Canada effectively mixes personal history and policy analysis to describe a very serious problem facing a large segment of the U.S. population. He describes the trends, performing the difficult task of describing the difficulties without blaming the victims. While the victims are not blamed, neither are they left off the hook. The description of the young men who thought serving food at their community center was beneath them, and the consequences that followed, was particularly powerful. Canada is almost certainly correct that work and school must become a more expected part of life for the young men (and women) at risk. I'm concerned how this will be accomplished, however, with the manufacturing and similar work becoming more and more scarce as producers move overseas for cheaper labor and similar "benefits." While it is no means a solution, somewhere I would suggest for job training is within the field of developmental disabilities. There are many entry level jobs, and there is a career path. Every new avenue helps. Canada is also correct in calling for more responsible media conduct. I think it would be nice if the misogynistic thug-like actions of performers and athletes were not held up as "cool," but were instead treated as despicable by the media.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marcia V. Riquelme on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Walking in the other persons shoes teaches us so much. If we have ever wondered why the cycle of violence in our most impoverished and decaying neighborhoods affects us all, and how these conditions evolved, then read the books of Geoffrey Canada. He lived this experience and of all the poignant descriptions, this book, teaches us all the elements that come into play as youth are challenged to protect their very survival minute by minute in our harshest neighborhoods across this nation. Geoffrey, a gifted educator provides both forms of information: an incisive analysis of the inherent problems and their causes, as well as the devastating effects even more elevated and critical that face young males who, through no fault of their own, are born into these circumstances. Geoffrey also provides perspectives on solutions to this issues, ones he is successfully carrying out in his Harlem Children's Zone program now expanded to serve 97 blocks in Harlem and creating a safe zone where children and families CAN succeed and have now succeeded due to Geoffrey's firm guidance and the tightly woven network of services and schooling his program offers.

Until I read Geoffrey's books, I thought I had a clear idea of the dynamics of the poverty syndrome, the effects on community and individuals and the deep and hopeless anguish and fear this generates. Geoffrey sheds more light on these dynamics. but also indicates how to move to eradicate a huge percentage of the downward pull holding so many innocent people in its vice-grip.

If you are concerned for the future of young men in the USA, and this also goes for all young men, not just the most unfortunate, read Reaching Up for Manhood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The author has amazing insights which, after reading or hearing, one says, "I should have known that before. It makes such good sense." I believe this is the kind of book that has the ability and sense to change and save lives. Terry Gross featured the author on her NPR program, Fresh Air, recently
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By KB on November 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, the potential buyer of this book may not be attracted to the simple book cover. That will immediately change when you pick it up and start to read it. I was hypnotized by the simplicity of the reading. This book can be read in one day and unlike many books, memorized. Geoffrey Canada does an excellent job of putting in words what some of the problems are that are plaguing America's young boys. Though his book leans heavily toward the "growing up" problems of African American boys, the lessons that he put out, apply to all American boys. Teenagers refusing to work at the soft drink table during a function (too beneath them), a young man who fights off a thug who is attempting to steal his jacket(he thought the guy was a friend of a friend), a young man who tries to kill himself, are just a couple of the real life examples in this book. This is all stuff of the real world of America's adolescents. I say this because I grew up in the neighborhood that the Rheedlen Center caters to, and reading Canada's book was like taking a step back into time. And he is so right when he says "we" have to get involved in the lives of America's boys who need support.
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