Book Trailers – The process we took with our students

On Friday, at a statewide SLAV conference, our students presented the book trailers they had worked on this term. It was a great day and the students excelled themselves. We talked about the process and they then showed the videos, discussing the choices they had made along the way.

I have put down my introduction to the session, with the process I used to put the project together.


There are many students who seem disengaged at school. It has been said that young people are not reading and won’t write anymore than they absolutely must.

Outside school, however, it is a different story. Studies have shown young people are reading and writing incessantly, updating their MySpace/Facebook pages, keeping blogs and WebPages

In other words they are reading and writing but in different modes and media to the more traditional print literacies of the 20th century. Indeed the definition of literacy is evolving all the time. Literacy can no longer just encompass print-only works. In the 21st century literacy must include digital, hypertext, images and the plethora of communication media that make up the complex systems that bound in today’s world.

The complexity of messages in today’s world means that our students have to not only know how to “read” them but also know enough about them to be critical viewers, with the power to analyse and understand the obvious and more obscure meanings of the messages around them

Students are bringing multi-literacy skills to the classroom and teachers tap into their interests and skills and then enhance their students’ understanding of these various diverse texts. This will enable them to become skilled at critically viewing any of the diverse texts that is presented to them so that they can confidently use all the media around them to learn, clarify and communicate information rather than by passive users who can be coerced, confused and persuaded by the unscrupulous.

Some statistics:

  • 73% or ¾ students on the internet watch or download videos
  • ½ of the young internet users say they watch YouTube
  • Many young people post videos to blogs and even more forward on a link in an email
  • They are socializing, researching, playing games, getting news via technologies.

In schools we need to look at innovative ways to capture the interest and commitment of students to the understanding the deep-thinking and, as the learning world becomes more and more immersive, these initiatives are an important step.

Why use/choose Book Trailers?

Whilst looking at the some publishers websites I saw a few different book trailers. They were interesting but there was nothing on the internet that I believed our students weren’t capable of creating for themselves.  When I went looking specifically for book trailers I found many more. They were varied in their level of skills, approaches to the books they were publicizing and the reasons for their creation. In the US they seemed to be encouraging all sorts of people to create trailers, the authors for their own books, readers of all levels and professional “film” people. The trailers were shown by libraries, used by publishers and in schools. There are competitions run by publishers and others for the “best” books trailers

Book trailers offer an alternative way to respond to some reading/a book, ways that are creative but encourage critical thinking and analysis.

Students can use:

  • still or moving images,
  • special effects,
  • recorded soundtrack,
  • voice-overs and/or music, print text and
  • cutting/editing techniques

to share their interpretations and critiques of what they have read.

Technology is not the goal.It is a means for students to explore a variety of literacies and ways of communicating their response to their reading. Visual, aural, indeed, many learning styles and modes can be used. It can help reluctant readers and writers by offering them a chance to use methods that interest them and that make use of other strengths that they may have.

Show the students some different examples of book trailers. Let them see/hear  and critique them. Some examples we used were:

The Process:

  • Choose a book
  • Read the book
  •  Analyse the book – what was good, unique, interesting, etc – list/brainstorm/mindmap
  • Write a first draft – impressions, feeling, important points
  • Create a storyboard
  • Plan effects (transitions, sound, colouring, etc)
  • Review the plan – with teachers, other students
  • Create the trailer

The product:

There can be an amazing array of approaches.

The product can be used to entice other reader by playing it on electronic screens within the school/library.

The trailers can be out up on blogs, webpages, etc. and shared with others beyond the classroom/school so they are used by others not just a class assignment, never to be revisited.

 I had the thought to offer someone these digital responses to books instead of the usual book reviews


The students used Audacity (to put together sound), Ulead VideoStudio to create the video

Use Creative Commons sites to find licensed images and sounds/music.


Video cameras and other digital cameras could be borrowed by the students to take the shots they needed.

Searches for CC resources are easy on the various sites such as:


Sound  Some music students at the school were also happy to help create music and sound for the students doing the trailers. Sound

Some Points to Note:

  • Have a hook for the audience.
  • Get people interested in/excited about the book.
  • Grab their attention with the first
  • Don’t have too much text
  • Set the mood and convey the “feeling” of the book
  • Length is important. Not too long or too short, just give a quick “taste” of the book.
  • Be mysterious
  • Look at the concept behind the story and don’t focus on the details of the book (the minutiae)
  • Music and sound is essential

An assessment rubric can be found on my wiki.

What Next?

The boys are interested in loading the trailers onto TeacherTube as example and they are working on some trailers for a Melbourne-based publisher. The books they are working on will be published next year and they will be part of the launch. They have written a song for one trailers and have lots of ideas. Watch this space!


3 Responses

  1. This is a really great idea! I will definitely look into finding out what kind of technologies we can use to do something like this at our high school!

  2. Hi Rhonda

    Your session at SLAV was fantastic and very inspiring !I’m sure you were really proud of your boys!! Some of them were real “personalities”!

    I showed our 5 and 6 classes the Ranger’s Apprentice trailer when it first came out last year and it really appealed to them (and to me). I knew then that I wanted to do something like it and now thanks to your session I’ve got more of an idea of how to go about it . I’ll look out for your students’ trailers on the Black Dog website to use to help my students next year….I’ll be on a big learning curve with them!!

    Thanks for sharing your work 🙂

  3. Thank you Rhonda and also to your team for sharing their enthusiasm and inspiration in a very entertaining manner. Thank you also for placing the process online – sincere appreciation – it is so clearly defined.

    I have been playing with the idea of book trailers for a bit of time now and your work at Whitefriars has pushed me over the line. I want to take it to another step [vis a vis Margaret and David Show] but still at R & D stage. Again my thanks : )

    Thanks for putting the samples on Teacher Tube as well.

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