Format: Picture book
Author and illustrator: Jack Kent
Publisher: Prentice Hall (published April 1981)
Correlation does not equal causation.
This is a basic tenet of scientific inquiry. If it rains every time you wear a yellow shirt, it does not mean that your yellow shirt can make it rain. There could be some other factor that causes both the yellow shirt wearing and the rain, or it could be entirely a coincidence (a more likely answer in this example, but one must never make assumptions without evidence).
In Jack Kent’s Little Peep, a newborn chick in the farmyard meets an arrogant cock who claims he makes the sun rise with his crow.
Does the sun rise because the cock crows, or does the cock crow because the sun rises?
At its most basic level, Little Peep is a story about talking animals and two chickens who learn a valuable lesson about not pushing people around. However, if you come from a family of statisticians and economists, as my kids do*, you may find yourself using this book as a teachable moment to talk about confirmation bias, belief perseverance, and cognitive inertia. It is comical to hear Little E lisp “confirmation biath,” but the bottom line is that kids freaking love stories about talking animals, especially talking farm animals, and Jack Kent, rest his soul, knows how to write talking farm animals. Also, it’s funny. A baby chick falls into a tin cup, animals get confused about the time of day, and — Little E’s favourite part — cows and pigs try to crow like a rooster (“MOO-KA-DIDDLE-MOO!” “OINK-A-DIDDLE-OINK!”) There are loads of opportunities for the Out-Loud Reader to ham it up with elaborate voices for the horse, the cow, the pig, the cock, and Little Peep himself. Take or leave the lessons about the scientific method, this book is the height of humour for the preschooler set.
Fair warning: this book was written in 1981. Consequentially, (1) it is hard to find, though your local library may have a copy kicking around and I’ve seen it on AbeBooks and Amazon, and (2) the farmer has a gun. I mean, I guess lots of farmers have guns in real life, but I personally try to keep my kids’ books relatively light on the firearms. I’ve been thinking about cutting out a pitchfork and gluing it over the gun in the book. You may feel differently.
P.S. If you’re interested in a very funny look at how correlation does not equal causation, head over to Spurious Correlations to speculate on what the link between number people who drowned by falling into a swimming pool
and number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in or between per capita consumption of chicken (US) and total US crude oil imports.
*Tall Dude’s family. My people are language people.