Before Reading

Tell students that they will be reading an action-packed book called The Call of the Wild. It is the story of a dog, Buck,that suddenly has to adapt to a life far different from the one in which he was raised. Although the story is told in a completely realistic way, we see all of the action through Buck's eyes,sharing his experiences, feelings, and needs.

Use the activity that is best suited for your class.

Option 1: Explore the idea of seeing things from an animal's point of view by drawing on students' prior knowledge of literature. Have them discuss other books in which animals are the central characters. If students have difficulty coming up with examples, you might suggest such books as Charlotte's Web, which is a fantasy about a group off arm animals, and the Black Stallion books, which are written in a much more realistic manner.

Divide the class into small discussion groups, and ask each group to work together to come up with descriptions of the animals they have read about in books. Have some of the students in each group write brief physical descriptions of the animals; others,descriptions of the animals' personalities; a third group, a short description of what happens to the animals during the course of the story.

Option 2: For students who are not familiar with books centering on animals and their experiences, have students discuss any pets they know about firsthand. Begin by asking students to list and describe the animals. Each student should write what kind of animal the pet is, what it looks like, and how it acts.

Then ask students to think about how each of these pets might be different from a similar animal raised and living in the wild. For example, how would a pet dog be different from a wild wolf? What qualities would they have in common?

Then distribute copies of the book and call students' attention to the illustration on the cover. Point out that this story is about the brown dog shown at the front of the dog team. Explain that the story takes place in the late 1800s, when thousands of people rushed to Alaska and the Canadian Yukon in search of gold.

Before beginning the story, tell students that as they read they should also be thinking about what this dog's story tells them about themselves. Ask them to think about how they themselves might feel if they were suddenly forced into a completely new environment.