Free To Fall Book Trailer Assignment

Evidence shows that students who create visual representations of a concept are more likely to retain information than those who do not. Moreover, my students prefer media-rich assignments versus a paper and pencil option. So rather than having them do traditional book reports, I let my class produce book trailers.

Book trailers are generally created by publishers to evoke interest and excitement in a new title. They work like movie previews. In the classroom, book trailers are a fresh way for students to summarize what they have read while breaking out of the traditional book report format. And with any luck, their book trailers will also convey some of the excitement of a film preview, and turn other students on to some great new literature. Finally, book trailers are the perfect extension activity for the lesson on visual literacy I described last week. Read on to learn how to do book trailers in your classroom.

Setting the Stage

Creating a book trailer involves multiple steps. The first step for students is creating a visual representation, or storyboard, of the video they hope to produce. The storyboard will help them clarify their topic and theme, and synthesize the information they hope to convey.

In her book 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom, Judith Dodge offers several storyboard activities. I chose the worksheets “Picture Note Making,” “Photo Finish,” and “Filming the Ideas," as they fit my students' various learning styles well. They can also be modified to support struggling learners or to challenge advanced ones.

For example, with the unit collage template, you can label concepts to offer more guidance, or leave the assignment open-ended to allow students to create their own connections and engage in higher-level thinking. When all of the collages come together, the effect can be quite dramatic. I was so impressed by the wide variety of illustrations, as well as by how much information my students retained from the text. The unit collage served as a wonderful foundation for constructing our book trailers.

Behind the Scenes

Now that a storyboard has been established, it’s time to put those tech skills to work! There are many software options for making a book trailer, including Photo Story and Windows Movie Maker, but for a truly theatrical experience, I prefer Apple’s iMovie. It contains an excellent step-by-step tutorial that explains how to use each component. You may also want to view some examples of previous book trailers as inspiration. Some great resources are Book Trailers for Readers, Kidlit Book Trailers, Book Trailers: Movies for Literacy, and the article "65 Book Trailers to Build Excitement for Summer Reading."

For more instruction on creating videos with students, see Top Teacher Advisor Christy Crawford's post "Flip Movies Easy Enough for a First Grader to Complete" and Mary Blow's post "Video Booktalks — Booktalk 101."

Since the process of creating a book trailer can be time-consuming, you may want to organize students in pairs or small groups. I like to assign each student a role such as “film editor” or “art director” in order to make the project more personalized. You may also want to assign the role of “technical director” to an expert who can solve minor technical glitches.

The Silver Screen

What better way to celebrate student success than to have a screening party! To make it official, I pass out an invitation for my students to view their amazing creations as well as a voting ballot. This is a perfect way to end a fun unit celebrating visual literacy and 21st century skills. For more ideas on how to wrap up a filmmaking unit, see Megan Power's post "Red Carpet Movie Premiere."


I would love to see the book trailers your class designs! Share links below.

book trailer is a video advertisement for a book which employs techniques similar to those of movie trailers.
Key elements of a book trailer:
  • Did it grab your attention?
  • Do you want to share it with someone?
  • Do you want to watch it again?
  • Most importantly, are you going to find the book now?
– Length: Short and sweet are the keywords here. 30 - 90 seconds, 2 minutes is the absolute max. Aim for impact and intrigue.
– Energy: The Internet gives an otherwise patient and calm person a much-reduced attention span. Bearing this in mind, we tried to keep the energy high throughout and details to a minimum. 
– Rights: Check you have the rights to images, music and anything else you use.  Look for copyright free or obtain the rights.
– Keeping the character images vague: This might be a matter of personal preference, but I certainly like to imagine how characters look and sound without being shown prior to opening a book. This goes for book covers too. We purposefully didn’t give the main character Bailey a face so as not to spoil that experience for readers. 
– Music: always good for setting the mood, be sure that it matches the tone of the book.
– Don’t include any spoilers!
– Tone: Make sure the trailer fits the tone of the book. Don’tmake a humorous trailer for a dark thriller and vice versa.
– Make it entertaining! Whether that’s through humor, suspense, surprise, or whatever means, it needs to be watchable. This is advertising a form of entertainment after all.

  • Skip ahead to narrate your pictures
  • Do you have too many words on one picture
  • Adjust – find more pictures or use less words
  • Now narrate in one setting- use emotion

Caution if you rearrange the picture you must redo the narration for that slide
Flow and Focus
  • Does it flow? does it make sense? – not too much script on one picture, did you end strong?              

Enhance & Edit
  • From Import and Arrange Play edit your pictures.
  • If you crop a photo make sure it is still 640 by 480 minimum -save
Hit preview button again
  • Check your narration.
  • Should you redo? 
  • Check your work – have someone watch and listen to your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to change things!
  • You worked hard you want this to be perfect

Create your Title and Credit frames
  • If you have not done so create your titles. – save
​Pick the right Book  Watch other trailers and get ideas
  • Book Trailers for Adolescents  (Click the YouTube link to watch)
  • Middle School Book Trailers 
Write down your narration
  • 10 to 15 sentences
  • Short sentences – 1 picture ,
  •  Long sentences – 2 to 3 pictures,  
Also get basic book info for title [ Title and  Author]
Make a Folder 
  • Save photos for project in this folder.
Find your pictures
  • Use Google Images at school -advanced
  • Creative Commons -
  • LibGuides with Joyce Valenza 
  • Use Image Codr to get correct image attribution for Flickr images. 
  • List of Copyright free images and more
  • Other pubic domain free photo sites: pics4learning, photos8 
  • Search – 640 by 480 (or larger), reuse /copyright free
  • right click & save picture on full size
  • save to folder, name it , note photographer

Import your pictures into Adobe Spark
  • Begin a new Video and save to your folder
  • Add Background Music, click the picture on the timeline &your music will start there
  • The music goes very low on the timeline.-save
  • Hit the preview button anytime – did your music enhance the story- do you still have focus and flow?
Sources of background music
  • Imcompetch by Kevin MacLeod
  • Lists of free sounds and music compiled by Larry Ferlazzo
  • Free Audio Music YouTube 
Click book jacket for trailer.
Render your story (30-60 seconds in length)
  • Save your story.
  • Share:
    • Title: name of your book
    • Subtitle: Book Trailer
    • Topic: Education
    • Author: your name
    • Click: Create Link (be patient now – spark will send you several fun messages)
  • When done, click copy link and paste into upload with assignment.
  • Turn in with the assignment by liking to assignment and click the TURNIN button.

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