We asked Holzhauer about the importance of kids books in his prep, and which ones have proved most useful:
How are kids’ books more helpful than adult books in preparing for the show?
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.
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?
The Classics Illustrated series was an excellent primer in literature, and I also really enjoyed Zachary Hamby’s mythology books for teens.
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?
I had a Daily Double about the Denver Mint, which came from some Americana book that I can’t remember the name of.
You mentioned in a Publishers Weekly article that you’d read a book about Maurice Sendak. What was the book and how did it help you?
The first book I ever read my daughter — months before she was born — “Where The Wild Things Are.”
Do you and your daughter like the same children’s books?
I’ve learned more about animals just by reading to my kid than I ever did studying.
Do you ever read kids’ books for fun?
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.
Nora Krug is an editor and writer at Book World.