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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character | [Paul Tough]

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

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 for a very different understanding of what makes a successful child. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology, Tough shows that the qualities that matter most have less to do with IQ and more to do with character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.
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Publisher's Summary

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 for a very different understanding of what makes a successful child. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology, Tough shows that the qualities that matter most have less to do with IQ and more to do with character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of scientists and educators who are radically changing our understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity. It tells the personal stories of young people struggling to stay on the right side of the line between success and failure. And it argues for a new way of thinking about how best to steer an individual child - or a whole generation of children - toward a successful future. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage listeners; it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

©2012 Paul Tough (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Well-written and bursting with ideas, this will be essential [listening] for anyone who cares about childhood in America." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Gregory EL CERRITO, CA, United States 01-21-13
    Gregory EL CERRITO, CA, United States 01-21-13 Member Since 2013

    interested in medicine, fitness, and economics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Heavy on Anecdotes, light on data"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I am not sure it was worth my time, to be honest. While there were some interesting tidbits and I generally agree with the book's premise, I think there are better books on a similar topic. I enjoyed Brain Rules for Baby more. This book is written by a journalist rather than a scientist or doctor and it shows. He clearly put a lot of time and effort in the book and it is loaded with interesting anecdotes, but I would have rather heard a book based in more science and data.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    More studies and research and less personal stories.


    What does Dan John Miller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I thought the narration was certainly adequate.


    Did How Children Succeed inspire you to do anything?

    I think it reminded me that I should emphasize perseverance more to my children as they grow up.


    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick AUSTIN, TX, United States 02-05-13
    Patrick AUSTIN, TX, United States 02-05-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Interesting but scattered"

    This book raises some key points about what attributes in children predict success in adult life, and they are not what we tend to expect (name, not IQ). But it is also a somewhat scattered and unfocused book, sort of a sampling or anecdotes on the central theme. It spends a lot of time on the personalities and situations of the specific teachers, students, and researchers in the stories rather than driving home the central idea.

    This is not really a parenting how-to book, and it tends to focus on older children, about age 10 or above. It is also not really a scientific book. It tends to feel more like journalism, maybe a very long article from a magazine.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori FPO, AE, United States 09-26-12
    Lori FPO, AE, United States 09-26-12
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    "Surprisingly refreshing"
    What did you love best about How Children Succeed?

    I loved the honest look at where the children that our society looks down upon come from. I loved that Mr. Tough explored what really goes on in our country and how we can fix it. As a child that grew up like most of the children in Paul Tough's book, it was a real wake up call as to how I can be a better mother to my children, so they are ahead of the game and that they have the skills necessary not only to survive, but thrive throughout their whole lives. It's a great book and one that I think everyone should read at least once.


    Any additional comments?

    Read the book.

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 02-03-13
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 02-03-13
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    "long"

    although not a long book, it's long for what is in here, which is a rehash of many of the same experiemnts that are in lots of other similar books. In addition, there is little helpful here....yes, children who can postpone eating a marshmellow do better than those who can't, and this may be even more important predictor than intelligence, but as a father of several young kids, the key question remains....WHY do some kids have better self control and is this inherited or a changeable/teachable trait. No answers there. And the author even contradicts himself at the end, stating that "urturing" is important at an early age but that later one needs to balance being demanding vs. nurturing. Well, yeah, that's pretty much why parenting is so hard in a nutshell.

    narration is adequate.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 10-09-12
    Jeremy MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 10-09-12
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    "Readable, Relatable and Deep Case Studies..."

    How Children Succeed by Paul Tough will force you to think about pressure we put on teachers to educate in the classroom when a host of determinate factors outside of the classroom may be more apt to tell whether a child "succeeds."

    In what I can only describe as a Gladwellian analysis of characteristics of successful children, Tough goes far beyond the classroom and uncovers the necessity of harder to measure factors such as "Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character."

    This book presents a necessary perspective to understand how we must change our approach from simply the education of a child, to a more holistic approach of "child development" that creates intuitive pathways to develop things like care, character, drive, and determination even in the midst of often bleak economic and social circumstances.

    I highly recommend this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miles Washington, DC USA 10-18-12
    Miles Washington, DC USA 10-18-12 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It Takes Grit To Finish This Audiobook!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I was expecting more of a point by point guide to raising kids to have "grit" rather than an exhaustive explanation of the psychology behind the topic. I experienced it as very technical reading that would perhaps appeal more to people in the field of education or psychology rather than parents. It referred time and again to many of the people one always reads about when reading about the field of positive psychology. While interesting, the stories used as examples were related dryly and were too long.There was a lot of information and clearly a lot of research done here, but it didn't translate well and became laborious to push through. The chapters and sections were randomly defined and erratic in their sequencing which was disorienting in the context of an audiobook.


    Has How Children Succeed turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, but I will hesitate when thinking about picking up another book by this author.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator was sub-par. His affectations of the "voices" and accents of the people from the case studies were presumptive and cloying. He put on what he interpreted as the voice of people in certain socio-economic circumstances while I bet he never met any of the people referred to in the book in order to actually know how they sounded...how does he know they spoke like that? The affectations were patronizing, and I imagine will offend some. At the very least they detract from the subject matter.


    Any additional comments?

    Was hoping for something more energetic and engaging, after hearing the TED talk by Ms. Duckworth, which was referenced many times in this book. Disappointed.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. McMillie Arizona 06-23-13
    K. McMillie Arizona 06-23-13 Member Since 2013

    Reading is my passion!

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    "How Children Succeed?"
    What did you like best about How Children Succeed? What did you like least?

    I did not care for this book. The author has clearly done quite an extensive amount of research into the topic, but it is written in such a style that it did not keep my attention at all, despite a good performance by the narrator.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I honestly could not finish this book......and that in itself is saying something because it is very rare that I don't finish a book.


    Do you think How Children Succeed needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Please no!


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I had not spent my money on this book, but even worse, I wish I had not invested the time to listen to it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher A. Stewart saint paul, mn United States 12-03-12
    Christopher A. Stewart saint paul, mn United States 12-03-12 Member Since 2011

    Christopher

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    "Persuasive argument for broader school reform"
    Would you listen to How Children Succeed again? Why?

    Paul Tough pulls together interesting research that highlights the power of non-cognitive abilities to improve educational outcomes. In addition to persuasive scientific evidence of how learnable character traits can boost achievement, Tough also supports the science with real life stories of children that have overcome enormous hurdles.

    This is a simply told story that will keep your attention. It isn't pretentious in any way and the writing is accessible even when describing complex science.

    If there is any flaw with this book it is that the conclusion feels flimsy. Tough spins a wonderful tale of how children beat the odds, but his idea that these findings somehow invalidate the school reform movement's focus on teacher quality and school-based interventions is off course. Focusing on poverty interventions outside of schools while also focusing on classrooms are not exclusive. It almost seems that Tough is unaware that he was making a welfare reform argument rather than school reform. And that is where his insights fall down. Even has he goes to great lengths to defend schools, he has very little grace with the human services sector.


    What aspect of Dan John Miller’s performance would you have changed?

    The narration is great except for one major flaw. When a seemingly white sounding man adopts the accents of what is supposed to be inner-city black females - trouble ensues. At first it was funny. Then it was not.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deidre rockwood, ON, Canada 10-10-12
    Deidre rockwood, ON, Canada 10-10-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome!"

    I loved this book and recommended it to my co-workers. It was very inspiring and as an educator it gave me hope. It was current, relevant and full of ideas on how we can help are challanging disadvantgaged students with our everyday practices. It was easy to listen too and the stories of real people were engaging. I found it hard to stop listening and get out of the car and go into work.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Jones Chicago, IL 11-13-12
    R. Jones Chicago, IL 11-13-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Not what I expected"
    Any additional comments?

    It has some good anecdotes and supporting tales, but I was expecting more guidance as a parent. Look for it to be entertaining and well written with relevant stories, but not as a parental guide on "How Children Succeed". Also, it was read fairly slowly - this was the first audiobook I listened to at 1 and 1/2 speed for the book's entirety. Performance was fine, just slower than I wanted.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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