Whatever It Takes

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

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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."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 310 pages
  • 134.62 x 203.2 x 20.32mm | 340.19g
  • Cengage Learning, Inc
  • Boston, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0547247966
  • 9780547247960
  • 141,285

Review quote

"When it comes to an introduction about poverty and parenting in urban America, you could hardly do better than [WHATEVER IT TAKES] ."---New York Times Book Review "This is a serious book about a pressing issue, but Tough manages to make it an easy read with a cast of sympathetic characters ... We don't know how this story will end. In the meantime, there are lessons to be learned from the Harlem Children's Zone-----about the power of an idea, the role culture plays in student achievement, accountability, the indomitable human spirit. This book should be on every policymaker's reading list."---Washington Post Book World"A remarkable book ... a story more gripping and inspiring than you'd imagine social policy could possibly be."---GQ magazine "This unflinching book will motivate us all to take action and make our schools places of possibility and hope"---Essence magazine "This is an engrossing look at a visionary man and a bold experiment that has caught the eye of a wide range of politicians, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, who has promised to replicate the program throughout the U.S. if elected." --- Booklist (starred review) "Smoothly narrated, affecting and heartening, this book gives readers a solid look at the problems facing poor communities and their reformers, as well as good cause to be optimistic about the future."--Publishers Weekly "Outstanding literary nonfiction, distinguished by in-depth reporting, compelling writing and deep thinking."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "I wish every city had a Geoffrey Canada. As Paul Tough shows so vividly in "Whatever It Takes," Canada is a man of integrity and heart who knows what it takes to ensure that every child has a fair shot in life. His vision of a renewed Harlem community, and his accomplishments toward achieving it, attest to the power we all have to overcome poverty and hopelessness in America."--President Bill Clinton"At once a warm and immaculately reported piece of journalism and a nearly complete overview of the contemporary educational debate. A massive accomplishment, and pretty much mandatory reading for anyone working in urban education or anyone interested in the future of our democracy." Dave Eggers, co-founder of 826 National and author of Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers "Paul Tough shows, from the inside, how the nation's most important work gets done." Adrian Nicole Leblanc, author of Random Family "Paul Tough s clear-eyed portrait of Geoffrey Canada offers the most cogent, provocative and original thinking on urban poverty to come along in many, many years." Whatever It Takes" pushed me to question what I thought I knew. Powerful and hopeful, disturbing and daring, it s one important book. Essential even." Alex Kotlowitz, author of" There Are No Children Here""This is not just a gripping story of one man s heroic attempt to pull an entire neighborhood s worth of children up by their bootstraps. It s also a wise and expansive chronicle of a living, breathing science experiment. In "Whatever It Takes, " Paul Tough takes on one of the biggest questions going: how do you teach people to be successful?" Stephen Dubner, co-author of" Freakonomics ""Geoffrey Canada s work is a model for the nation." Whatever It Takes" is a moving account of his commitment to giving Harlem s children access to the same dreams as children in New York s most privileged neighborhoods." Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children s Defense Fund"Whatever It Takes" is easily the most compelling and potentially the most important book on the problem of poverty in urban America in years. Paul Tough has a sharp eye for the telling detail, a sure grasp of the literature, and a gift for storytelling that together make for a bracing narrative, hard-edged in its realism but also brimming with hope and possibility. Not to be missed."--Michael Pollan""Whatever It Takes" is a must-read for any American committed to solving our nation's greatest social injustice the fact that in a country that aspires so admirably to be a land of equal opportunity, the socioeconomic circumstances into which you are born still determine your opportunity in life. In describing the groundbreaking efforts of Geoff Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone, Paul Tough deepens our understanding of the problem and of the only viable path for solving it." Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach for America"This is a fascinating book. The question of whether these terribly disadvantaged kids will fail or succeed takes on all the nail-biting urgency of any high-stakes, novelistic thriller. But the dangers here are all too real, the risks are cruel, and the victories feel as unlikely as they are magnificent." Elizabeth Gilbe"Paul Tough is a lucid, engaging storyteller, and his account of this visionary man in Harlem changed my understanding of poverty in America in the most surprising way: it made me feel hopeful." Ira Glass "show more