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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character Paperback – July 2, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,115 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

"In this absorbing and important book, Tough explains why American children from both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum are missing out on these essential experiences. … 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."
—Annie Murphy Paul, The New York Times Book Review

"An engaging book that casts the school reform debate in a provocative new light. … [Tough] introduces us to a wide-ranging cast of characters — economists, psychologists, and neuroscientists among them — whose work yields a compelling new picture of the intersection of poverty and education."
—Thomas Toch, The Washington Monthly

"Mr. Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, combines compelling findings in brain research with his own first-hand observations on the front lines of school reform. He argues that the qualities that matter most to children’s success have more to do with character – and that parents and schools can play a powerful role in nurturing the character traits that foster success. His book is an inspiration. It has made me less of a determinist, and more of an optimist."
—Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail

"How Children Succeed is a must-read for all educators. It’s a fascinating book that makes it very clear that the conventional wisdom about child development is flat-out wrong."
—School Leadership Briefing

"I loved this book and the stories it told about children who succeed against big odds and the people who help them. … It is well-researched, wonderfully written and thought-provoking."
—Siobhan Curious, Classroom as Microcosm

"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."
—James Sweeney, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"[This] wonderfully written new book reveals a school improvement measure in its infancy that has the potential to transform our schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods."
—Jay Mathews, Washington Post

"Nurturing successful kids doesn’t have to be a game of chance. There are powerful new ideas out there on how best to equip children to thrive, innovations that have transformed schools, homes, and lives. Paul Tough has scoured the science and met the people who are challenging what we thought we knew about childhood and success. And now he has written the instruction manual. Every parent should read this book – and every policymaker, too." 
— Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

"I wish I could take this compact, powerful, clear-eyed, beautifully written book and put it in the hands of every parent, teacher and politician. At its core is a notion that is electrifying in its originality and its optimism: that character — not cognition — is central to success, and that character can be taught. How Children Succeed will change the way you think about children. But more than that: it will fill you with a sense of what could be." 
—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

"Turning the conventional wisdom about child development on its head, New York Times Magazine editor Tough argues that non-cognitive skills (persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence) are the most critical to success in school and life....Well-written and bursting with ideas, this will be essential reading for anyone who cares about childhood in America."
—STARRED Kirkus Reviews

“This American Life contributor Tough (Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America) tackles new theories on childhood education with a compelling style that weaves in personal details about his own child and childhood. 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." 
Publishers Weekly 

From the Back Cover

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"
PAUL TOUGH is the author of "Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada s Quest to Change Harlem and America." He has written about education, child development, and poverty in "The New Yorker" and in cover stories for the "New York Times Magazine," where he is a contributing writer. His journalism has also appeared in "Slate," "GQ," and "Esquire," and on "This American Life." Learn more at www.paultough.com or follow him on Twitter: @PaulTough.
"

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
1,115 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on April 25, 2014
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Top international reviews

Nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read for those interested in child development or education.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2015
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Whitechild76
4.0 out of 5 stars I bought a self help book!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2019
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sp1951
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific insight into bringing up children
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2019
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Matthew Bakewell
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good stuff, and anecdote based
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 31, 2016
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KJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for parents hoping to improve their parenting skills
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 19, 2014
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Miss Megan Lloyd
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 14, 2020
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Nacho GG
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a great parenting book... in my view
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 25, 2016
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DriveSafely
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2016
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Miss Charlotte L Agnew
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2015
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T. A. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2018
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Mermaid on the Dolphin's Back
4.0 out of 5 stars The importance of executive funcion beside and a bit over IQ
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 20, 2013
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David Manning
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent contemporary information
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2013
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Mrs Vanessa M Viles
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2014
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joel burns
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 11, 2014
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Anjali Ramachandran
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and detailed examination of education in the modern age
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2013
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