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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 08, 2019 1:00 am

'Jeopardy!' champ's secret? Kids' books

Nora Krug | Washington Post

Since James Holzhauer began his “Jepoardy!” winning streak, everyone has been trying to figure out how he does it. One recent hint: books. Well, of course. But the 34-year-old revealed he finds the most helpful titles in the section more suited to his 4-year-old daughter. (And to show he appreciates those books, he's pledged a donation to his library in Las Vegas.)

We asked Holzhauer about the importance of kids books in his prep, and which ones have proved most useful:

Q. How are kids' books more helpful in preparing for the show?

A. You may be able to read an adult book about a boring subject without falling asleep, but I can't. For me, it was either read some children's books – designed to engage the reader – or go into “Jeopardy!” with giant gaps in my knowledge base.

Q. Which children's books are you most grateful that you've read? Can you give us a list of a handful that turned out to be most useful?

A. The Classics Illustrated series was an excellent primer in literature, and I also really enjoyed Zachary Hamby's mythology books for teens.

Q. Can you tell us about a game-vital fact or two that you learned from a kids' book that you wouldn't have otherwise known?

A. I had a Daily Double about the Denver Mint, which came from some Americana book that I can't remember the name of.

Q. Do you and your daughter like the same children's books?

A. I've learned more about animals just by reading to my kid than I ever did studying.

Q. Do you ever read kids' books for fun?

A. I really like the works of [mathematician and popular science writer] Martin Gardner, who might count as a children's author. But when I read for fun, it's usually a bridge book – my shelf is full of them yet I keep asking for more.