So many amazing dog stories have been written, and hands-down, this is one of the best. We live and breathe Buck's experiences and transformation. We cringe at his pain, we cry at his losses, and we are warmed by his love and loyalty for a human. We read and curse man and his greed, and the laws of nature. We feel joy and yet complete loss as Buck answers his call. The book has many layers, and this is why we love it so. Don't let your students leave its pages thinking it's just another dog story!
Overall, this novel can be taught from middle school on up into 11th and 12th grades. It is up to you to decide on the level of complexity and how far into those layers you want to delve, based on your students' levels. Warn them that the book is sometimes bleak, and that it is devoid of female characters and romance. Younger students may need some help with the language. Bottom line: Take the time to work through what London is trying to convey to the reader. Explore how he makes some big statements about man's true calling and man's dark side through the human characters in the novel. He also shares a good bit in his depiction of the various dogs Buck meets along the way.