How Children Succeed Summary

Book Worm • 7 May 2018

One Sentence Summary


  • In this book, Paul Tough challenges the commonly held belief that a child’s success is primarily dependent on cognitive skills – what he calls the “Cognitive Hypothesis.”


Best Quotes

“the key channel through which early adversity causes damage to developing bodies and brains is stress.” 

“Any time you need to use the term hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal in order to make your point, you’ve got trouble.”

“resourcefulness, resilience, ambition, professionalism, and integrity.” 

“People high in conscientiousness get better grades in high school and college; they commit fewer crimes; and they stay married longer.” 


Key Takeaways


  • How to Fail - This chapter documents how adverse childhood experiences have a significant effect on everything including a child’s health and ability to learn.    
  • How to Build Character - This chapter uses multiple examples to show that the students who succeeded in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically in lower grades, but rather those who possessed certain other skills like optimism and resilience and social agility.
  • How to Think - This chapter focuses on the way that students learn to pay attention, resist distraction, and overcome mistakes.
  • How to Succeed - This chapter prepares the children to become successful college students
  • A Better Path - Tough states that science shows, that the character strengths that matter so much to young people’s success are not innate, they don’t appear in us magically as a result of good luck or good genes.


About author


  • Paul Tough (born 1967) is a Canadian-American writer and broadcaster. He is perhaps best known for authoring the works Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada´s Quest to Change Harlem and America and How Children Succeed.


How Children Succeed Summary
How Children Succeed Summary


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