Quick Reads: “How Children Succeed” By Paul Tough

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

By Paul Tough

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Why do some children grow into successful, stable adults while others flounder? Helicopter parents, beware: You won’t find the answer in Kumon books or Baby Einstein videos. The road to success, as journalist Paul Tough argues, is spattered with letdown and hardship. Apparently, the secret to a happy, healthy adulthood is learning early on to deal with disappointment and developing character traitspersistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control—to surmount it. 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.

This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones.


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This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

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