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

How children succeed“Success” is many things. It is a discipline. A goal. An expectation. You could say that success is relative. It comes at a cost, but its rewards can be without measure. Success can even be an illusion. However you choose to define success, I think “success” is something that all parents want for their children. We want our kids to be successful at school, enjoy successful relationships, make successful career choices, even be successful in love.

And, if we are honest, I think parents would admit to our own sense of intoxicating pride, joy, and accomplishment when our children achieve success. The impact of success and achievement, therefore, is multiplied over the generations.

But what does it really take to be successful? What qualities does a successful person possess? What can we do as parents to nurture and develop these qualities for success in our children? And, more importantly, how does achieving childhood success translate into becoming a successful adult?

In his new book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, author Paul Tough tackles these difficult questions.

Not surprisingly, Tough’s solution for success does not include high-priced early childhood language immersion classes, hundreds of hours reviewing packs of flash cards, or graduating valedictorian from the best high school in the country. His solution for success is deceptive in its simplicity, and unexpected in its effectiveness.

Tough concludes that in order for children to become successful adults, there is a desperate need for focused character development.

Using a gripping journalistic approach, Tough analyzes the complicated qualities of character. He describes how character is difficult to define, difficult to teach, and difficult to grade. Through numerous stories and examples, he describes how character can act as “bridge” to overcome academic, economic, and personal hardships. In addition, he repeatedly demonstrates how possessing components of both moral and performance character are crucial to a healthy adult life.

I highly recommend parents, teachers, and school administrators add How Children Succeed to their bookshelf.

Beyond the cover, Tough will challenge you to think about definitions of success; and consider the success of children in our homes, our Nation, and our world. He will persuade you to focus your energy on nurturing character strengths in ourselves, and our children. And with great insight, he provides unexpectedly practical advice on how we can all help children succeed.

The challenge that remains, of course, is how to turn his advice into action.