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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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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