♦♦♦♦ (of 5)

The bottom line: a must-read for any parent, parent-to-be or educator who seeks the best for the children in their care.


This title was recommended to me by a family member who works in education and I knew nothing of the book otherwise. The book marketers certainly did their job with the attractive title.

How Children Succeed tells everyone what they already know (that good parenting and raising children in a warm, loving, nurturing environment yields functional, productive adults) and also what they don’t know by quantifying specific adverse events in certain phases of development that cripple a child’s development, thus producing dysfunctional under- or non-achievers. It also dives into several new paradigms on teaching for middle and high school students (i.e. KIPP) that are rethinking the way education is delivered not to just teach “regular” students but to turn those underprivileged pupils “destined” for failure toward a path of success.

It may be the scientist in me, but I found the first part of the book the most engaging because it puts many facets of genetics, psychology, neuroendocrinology and social science into understanding just how the human brain and personality develop, thus making certain groups more adaptable to the challenges of life. While the remaining two parts were informative, I thought there was too much fluff and the author could have toned down on the anecdotal stories and stuck to the point.

The book raises an interesting point whether the existing educational system aims to produce, cultivate and encourage independent, creative, free-thinkers (the DaVincis and Einsteins) who challenge the status quo, or perhaps instead, American education discourages such characteristics and only selects for those gritty, determined individuals who will submit to the mold and do not venture out on their own, only to follow prescribed routes toward achievement (risk-adverse and non innovative).

In the end, love your children, encourage them, and make their lives stress-free when they’re young, but once the hit the pre-teen years don’t be afraid to expose them to challenges and struggle: that’s where true grit and greatness are molded.


Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal

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Posted in Book Reviews
  1. Blake says:

    i’m also a big fan of the smartest kids in the world and how they got that way by ripley

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