What would it take?
That was the question that Geoffrey Canada found himself asking. What would it take to change the lives of poor childrennot 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 livestheir 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.
…when it comes to an introduction to the debate about poverty and parenting in urban America, you could hardly do better than Tough's book. The children of the uneducated and impoverished too often bear a gloomy inheritance, their futures set in stone from an early age. Within Canada's 97 blocks, Tough finds a different kind of legacyone shaped by parents who have learned to pay attention to their children's developmental needs. With a support network unlike anything else in America, the children of Harlem can envision a future so many others expect as a matter of course.