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

AudioFile Reviews 2012 October
A behavioral science writer with a gift for narrative imagery shows the character traits that impact learning and success and how they can be taught. The brain chemistry necessary for such traits to emerge begins with soothing parents and an early environment with manageable stress levels. This allows healthy traits like curiosity, impulse control, persistence, and resilience to develop. But even when parental inputs and neighborhood conditions are not optimal, the author says, teachers can help by providing support, security, targeted guidance, and challenging expectations. Dan John Miller's relaxed tone and sensitive phrasing capture every bit of this book's human pathos and intellectual ideas. His enthusiasm and engagement sound genuine, and he's especially fun to hear when he's delivering quotes. His measured optimism helps make this a paradigm-shifting audio for anyone involved in teaching or shaping educational policy. T.W. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

Library Journal Reviews 2013 January #1

The audio version of 2009's Smart but Scattered by the coauthors of Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents posits that the reason that intelligent, motivated youngsters succeed at certain things (e.g., soccer) but struggle with others (e.g., cleaning their rooms) relates to executive function--those cognitive processes that regulate delayed gratification, planning, working memory, and more. Embedded PDFs contain diagnostic components to help parents assess any lopsidedness in their children's executive functions; once problems are identified and placed within the rubric of the parents' own cognitive skills, realistic expectations can be put into play. Susan Ericksen provides a clear, sympathetic reading.

The concerned Tough presents a condensation of the issues facing contemporary American educators. Though the material is well written, listeners will soon tire of track after track of different schools' innovations and approaches. Tough recounts the struggles and achievements of giant school systems (e.g., Chicago's), elite institutions, and innovators like YAP (Youth Advocate Programs), which creates "substitute or supplemental family structures for children who don't have them." Other than advocating attachment parenting, Tough's focus is more on research and funding, obscuring identification of ways parents can help children to develop the titular grit and character. Dan John Miller provides an effective reading. VERDICT Dawson and Guare's interesting work attempts to strike a balance between providing informational background and acting as a how-to manual; the result is not enough of either. This title is best suited to motivated, college-educated readers. Listeners interested in a survey course about the plight of the educational system can do no better than Tough's book, but caveat emptor--it is not a how-to volume.--Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Middletown

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