If you knew me, you'd know how very much I LOVE to read...fiction. I am always fascinated by different non-fiction topics, but reading non-fiction? Most of the time I fall asleep before I ever begin. I sometimes marvel at the fact that I made it through college and graduate school; if it doesn't read like a "story" I lose interset. But as I drove back to work one Monday afternoon for the twice monthly department meeting, I heard an author, Paul Tough, discussing his recent non-fiction book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. That was it, I was hooked. As I pulled into the parking lot I KNEW I had to download the book immediately, lest I forget the name and the author and miss the opportunity to change my life. Ok, maybe it wouldn't change my life, but everything I heard the author say sounded like what I have believed as a teacher, a parent, and as a person striving to regain my own health.
Not only did the book address the adrenal system and the dangers of having your flight or fight response swithced on almost permanantely, but it also discussed how stressors from early life events can negatively affects student performance in school, later in life. Author Paul Tough follows the paths of several students from low performing schools, in neighborhoods that would make most of us shudder. He spends an entire chapter examining the success of a chess coach in a low income school and attirubites her teams' success to her blatant honesty. He revists the success of a student from Chicago Public Schools who is, by all measures, a HUGE success story in her new role as college student at Western Illinois University. And Tough doesn't stop there. He discusses character skills, character report cards (done the right way), and talks about the downfalls of placing too high a value on ACT and IQ scores.
Honestly, I have never picked up and read a non-fiction book 'for fun'. I read pretty much everything I was supposed to all the way through college and graduate school. I occassionally find myself interested in an non-fiction news article, but always something brief. This book was not brief, but it was intensly interesting. I absolutely give this book 5 stars on a 5 star scale. Anyone who: is curious about what makes a person successful, has children, wants children, works with children or even knows someone else's children- you must read this book. And don't wait until you finish whatever is on your shelf or your Kindle at the moment. Read it now. Pull into a parking lot and download the book. Use that smart phone to place a hold at your local library. Make sure you have this book in hand by bedtime. What you read will change your life, or at the very least put a new perspective on what you thought you knew.