Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sep 10, 2009 - Social Science - 304 pages
12 Reviews
What would it take?

That was the question that Geoffrey Canada found himself asking. What would it take to change the lives of poor children—not one by one, through heroic interventions and occasional miracles, but in big numbers, and in a way that could be replicated nationwide? The question led him to create the Harlem Children’s Zone, a ninety-seven-block laboratory in central Harlem where he is testing new and sometimes controversial ideas about poverty in America. His conclusion: if you want poor kids to be able to compete with their middle-class peers, you need to change everything in their lives—their schools, their neighborhoods, even the child-rearing practices of their parents.

Whatever It Takes is a tour de force of reporting, an inspired portrait not only of Geoffrey Canada but of the parents and children in Harlem who are struggling to better their lives, often against great odds. Carefully researched and deeply affecting, this is a dispatch from inside the most daring and potentially transformative social experiment of our time. This e-book includes a sample chapter of HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - klburnside - LibraryThing

I saw this book on a shelf at the bookstore and picked it up because it was praised by Ira Glass on the cover. I then turned it over and saw additional praise from Dave Eggers and Michael Pollan. I ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MichelleCH - LibraryThing

Ironically Paul Tough was a little tough on the parents he portrays in the Harlem Children's Zone and in my opinion, helps to promote stereotypes around dress, household composition and styles of ... Read full review


2 Unequal Childhoods
3 Baby College
4 Contamination
5 Battle Mode
6 Bad Apples
7 Last Chance
8 The Conveyor Belt
9 Escape Velocity
10 Graduation
11 What Would It Take
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About the author (2009)

PAUL TOUGH’s last book was How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, which spent more than a year on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists and was translated into twenty-eight languages. He is also the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a regular contributor to the public-radio program This American Life. You can learn more about his work at paultough.com and follow him on Twitter @paultough.

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