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In this time of uncertainty and out of an abundance of caution, Westerly Library and Wilcox Park has decided to cancel all public programs, events, and outside meetings until at least March 31, 2020. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Westerly Sun Column

Study for Jeopardy

Everybody dreams of being on Jeopardy! one day, right? If you’ve ever thought about making that dream a reality, you’ve probably wondered how contestants prepare. Sure, some players may simply absorb information through everyday life and have a Slumdog Millionaire-like experience, but most contestants (and prospective contestants) study and prepare. There are plenty of ways to prepare for Jeopardy! specifically - practicing answering in question form, preparing to buzz in quickly by clicking a pen, figuring out how much to wager on Daily Doubles - but those are only helpful if you’ve already made it past the online test (if you want to try out for the show and take the online test, you can find it on How about some tips that could also help you out at Trivial Pursuit or at a bar? Jeopardy! champs like James Holzhauer and Ken Jennings can help you to prepare for a game show or just for a local trivia night.

You may remember James Holzhauer’s 32-game winning streak in 2019. He had an unexpected study tool: children’s books. They’re quick to read, contain quick bites of information without getting bogged down in details, and aim to make bland, boring topics more interesting for reluctant young readers. My job at Westerly Library includes cataloging new children’s books and I agree that this is a brilliant idea. Children’s non-fiction is simplified and concise; it often gives just an overview of topics. Trivia requires you to know a little bit about a lot of things rather than being an expert in one thing; you just need to know enough about a variety of topics to make a good guess sometimes. Try children’s almanacs, biographies, mythology books, and other non-fiction books as well as illustrated literary adaptations to get a good base knowledge. Holzhauer did note that children’s books don’t have a lot of pop culture information, so you’ll have to stay current some other way, like through the Internet and television. 

While in the Children’s Room, you can learn directly from a champ: Ken Jennings, the contestant with the longest winning streak and the winner of the Greatest of All Time tournament, is the author of non-fiction children’s books on ancient Egypt, Greek Mythology, the human body, and more. If you’re feeling more grown-up, he also writes for adults. His book Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac has answers to 8,888 questions that can help you prepare for many trivia situations.

Even though you can’t browse our collection in person at the moment, you can search for great children’s books on our online catalog at, and arrange to checkout and pick up books using our Library Takeout service.

Hopefully, this article has you ready to take on local trivia nights and game shows alike. And hopefully you’ve found it so helpful that you’ll donate some of your winnings to Westerly Library and Wilcox Park!

By Colleen Walsh-Jervis, Collection Management Associate