NEA Big Read
The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild

by Jack London

No man ever became great who did not achieve the impossible.

Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. Gold has a fascinating history. Research its ancient uses and values compared to its contemporary uses and value. As a class, create a map of the world, indicating the places that gold has been found. Ask each student to choose one country and analyze the way the discovery of gold can transform a country’s economic situation—for better and for worse.
  2. Expanding on Lesson Two, ask students to consider what it would take to join the Gold Rush of 1897. What kinds of things would they need to carry? How much money would they need for the journey? Students should learn more about Dawson City, the Chilkoot Pass, and the diseases that many gold rushers were likely to contract. Students with an interest in food might consider focusing their research on the food that would have been eaten, or the recipes that would have been popular in a Dawson City hotel.
  3. Use photography or artwork to create a photo gallery of life during the Gold Rush. The photos may come from books, from the Internet, or from family photo albums.
  4. Graphic designers and illustrators have imagined many different covers for Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. Create your own book cover using a scene you feel embodies a major theme.
  5. Research the history of working dogs. What sorts of jobs are particularly suited to different breeds? How many different types of dogs are mentioned in The Call of the Wild? Create a display that highlights these breeds and lists their dominant attributes.
  6. Buck is a dog who “becomes” a wolf; in White Fang, London features a wolf that “becomes” a dog. Research the relationship between dogs and wolves. Do wolves deserve such a negative reputation from humans? Why do you think so many fairytales, folk legends, and myths feature wolves as antagonists?
  7. Compare the Klondike of 1897 to today. Have the geographic boundaries changed? Highlight the similarities and differences, including details about the climate, animals, plant life, and rivers.
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