• Whatever It Takes

  • Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America
  • By: Paul Tough
  • Narrated by: Ax Norman
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (155 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 97-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.

©2009 Paul Tough (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Whatever It Takes

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Aboslutely terrific!

I loved this book. It chronicles Geoffrey Canada's personal experience growing up in a culture that did not always encourage academic success and his professional journey to combat the lack of educational achievement in Harlem. I love that the author also wove into this story a history of the governmental policies and some of the major writings (i.e. "The Bell Curve") on tackling this same issue. Wow- that sounds boring, but it's really not! If you have ever wondered if anything can be done to help the disadvantaged then this book will inspire you. The narrator was a pleasure to listen to as well.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking and interesting

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I was interested in issues around poverty and education. I also wanted to know more about the Harlem's Children's Zone. I am glad I listened to this book. I have found myself referencing the ideas in the books and the story has stayed with me. Good read!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

GREAT for forming strategies to improve education

This book should be required reading for anyone that works with children. It covers politics, economics, the state of education in America, and most importantly, the personal interactions and relationships built with children and families.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An absolute pleasure to listen to!

This book is for every teacher who has the unyielding desire to make a difference. Listen, learn, and grow with an educational visionary: Geoffrey Canada. You will not be disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Inspiring story poor narration

The narrator's tempo and pausing was as if he was reading to a group of school children . This made it difficult for me to get through the book. However, my passion for this subject matter propelled me to push through . I'd suggest reading the hard copy.
I prefer Thomas Sowell's Charter Schools and their Enemies- lots of statistical data.

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Balanced insight into the Harlem Children's Zone

This isn't a biography of Geoffrey Canada, but rather a well researched look at the importance of early childhood, and the promise of education to improve outcomes for children living in poverty.

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Detailed research presented well.

this was an entertaining book and the performance was engaging. The content was very academic yeah, but the storytelling kept the reader engaged.