Book Trailer Project is a digital storytelling activity for middle school or high school students after they finish reading a book. Students need to take the key idea from the book to create a short video that persuades people to check out a book they have read.
Doing the book trailer project requires students to summarize, synthesize and analyze the book and put that analysis in their trailer. Furthermore, having students create book trailers is a great way to incorporate technology in the classroom and encourage reading. Thus, book trailer project is a great alternative to boring book report assignments, and can easily be done individually or in groups.
Common Core Standards for English
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
11. Develop personal, cultural, textual and thematic connections within and across genres as they respond to text through written, oral or digital presentations, employing a variety of media and genres.
Book Trailer Project: Lesson Guide
The secret to a successful book trailer project is scaffolding! Teachers should walk students through the whole process from analyzing the book to creating their videos!
Using simple PowerPoint presentation, start by discussing the kind of trailers that students are most familiar with: movie trailers! Ask students to describe the last movie trailers they watched. Ask the main reasons why people create movie trailers and what are the qualities of a good trailer, e.g no spoilers, great music, etc.
Tell the class that they will be creating book trailers of the books that they have read before. Explain that a book trailer is a short video advertisement for a book which employs techniques similar to those used in a movie trailer. A book trailer’s main goal is to promote a book and entice readers to have a read.
Show several book trailers to the class. If possible, show professionally made (those found in author’s website) and student-made book trailers found on YouTube. While students are watching, ask them to take notes of what makes a great book trailer from these examples.
Professionally made sample video
Student made sample video
Distribute the Steps to Completing the Project handout and go over each step quickly, and set deadlines.
If students are going do the project in pairs or in groups, allow them to find their partner or group members. Give them time to shortlist the books they have read and agree on one title that they want to use for the project. If students have not read any book before, allow ample time for students to complete their novels before the next session.
- Another way is to write on a strip of paper all the book titles the class read this year and put them in a bowl. Allow each group to select one book that they have to develop a trailer for.
Hand out the printout Book Review Template and explain to students that this will help them flesh out the book and will become the basis for their script and storyboard. Have students work on completing the book review and help those who need extra assistance.
Next, ask students to plan their video by completing the Storyboard Template. Have students write their scripts and consider what types of pictures they want to use to illustrate their script. Tell them to plan on at least one image per sentence. The pictures can be more of setting, of objects important to the story, or anything else the writer can imagine. It’s a chance to be creative and make a trailer rich with symbolism.
Students only need to describe the images and don’t have to draw on the template, but if they can make a sketch or stick figures, the better!
Students also need to consider the background music to be used for the trailer. Remind them to consider the theme, mood and pace of the story in choosing the right music.
Give support to those who need additional help to finish.
Once students are done with the storyboard, model for how to search for images online. Explain that they need to click on the photo to see its actual size. Bigger image size will be clearer in the trailer; otherwise, it will look pixelated or blurry.
Here are some suggested image websites that students can use:
Pics4Learning – teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos and illustrations for classroom projects, web sites, videos, portfolios, or any other projects in an educational setting.
Pixabay – is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos.
Flickr: Creative Commons – is a non-profit that offers an alternative to full copyright.
Pexels – provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
Image Base – all photos on can be freely used for commercial, personal, non-profit, artistic, or creative purposes.
Google Images – is the easiest way to search for images. When giving attribution, explain to students that Google Images is just a mere search engine and not exactly the source. They need to click on the photo to see where it came from.
And here are some suggested websites for downloading songs and background music:
My Free MP3 – is a huge media library, covering music of different genres and time range.
MP3 Juices – is a popular and free mp3 search engine and tool.
MP3 Skull – this platform allows its users to search for mp3 files around the web.
- Hand out rubric for the project. Explain the instructions and expectations for the project clearly.
- Discuss the different options and tools available for them to create their trailer.
- Review how to use the software and media tools.
- Present PowerPoint on How to Create First Video on Animoto + Handout
- Answer any questions they have about producing the video.
- Have students work on the project and give assistance as needed.
Students must be able to convert and download their videos in mp4 file. They can upload their trailers into their own YouTube channel or you can create your own class channel where students can upload their videos. If you do the latter, you have to give students the email username and password (I suggest you change the password as soon as you finish the project).
The advantage of creating your own channel is that you can create different playlists for your different classes and/or book genre.
Peer Review and Reflection
Provide opportunities for peer review using the Peer Review printout where students will rate their classmates’ book trailers during class presentation/showing. You can also ask peers to share orally their feedback and constructive criticism after watching a particular trailer.
After watching all the videos, allow students to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses and revise their thinking by answering the Project Reflection Questions.
Evaluation and Assessment
Using the Book Trailer Rubric, evaluate students’ videos and offer students feedback. Add the average Peer Review score to their final grade.
Since the purpose of a book trailer is to invite people to read a book, you can also give bonus points for x number of likes, views or shares on YouTube or other social media sites.
Here’s a playlist of my 6th graders‘ works with careful planning and guidance using this Book Trailer resource!
I do this project with my 6th grade Vietnamese students. They are learning English as a second language yet with guidance and scaffolding, they are able to produce fantastic videos! I am fortunate to have been able to follow each and every student’s journey throughout the process of the book trailer project. My best advice is to think flexibly, be open to new ideas, and let the students drive the learning. You will be amazed by how your students communicate, collaborate, and critically analyze media.
If you are interested in doing this project, this resource is for you! This pack includes:
✔ Book Review Template
✔ Storyboard Template
✔ Book Trailer Rubric
✔ Peer Review Template
✔ Project Reflection Template
✔ Step by step guide handout for students
✔ Printable version of this lesson guide
✔ A simple PowerPoint presentation to show to students
✔ How to Create Your First Video on Animoto PowerPoint
✔ How to Create Your First Video on Animoto PDF Handout