Book Report Alternative: Creating Reading Excitement with Book Trailers

Jun 23, 2016

After reading books, students share book talks through digital storytelling.  First students plan scripts, and then they find images to illustrate their scripts. They also add text, narration, and music as well as pan and zoom effects.  Finally, the joy of reading is prompted through the sharing of the students’ digital stories.

Are you trying to generate a passion for reading in students?
Try digital storytelling!

digital storytelling

(Check out the full lesson and resources HERE)

Grades 4-12
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author Kathy Wickline
Tolono, Illinois

Students will:

  • Communicate meaning through the creation of a digital story.
  • Analyze mood of a book and reflect the mood in music.
  • Celebrate reading by viewing each other’s digital stories.


  1. Ask students to describe the last movie trailers they watched.  Ask what the purpose of these trailers is and what makes a good trailer, such as capturing the interest of the audience, not sharing the ending, and music that reflects the mood.
  2. Project several book trailers from the websites and/or show the one prepared for the class book.  Some possible examples are Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhai Lai from YouTubeRules by Cynthia Lord from TeacherTube,Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm from Book Trailers for Readers, and How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart from SchoolTube.  Ask what makes a great book trailer from these examples.
  3. Discuss the following points:
    • Readable text
    • Clear recordings
    • Interesting, clear images
    • Timing of images
    • Concise language
    • Music that reflects the mood of the book
    • Narration that is louder than the background music
    • Enough details to be interesting but not enough to give away the ending
    • Ends with a question or scene that makes the audience want to read the book
  4. Explain to the class that they will be creating book trailers after they have read books of their own choosing.
  5. Share the Book Trailer Rubric with the students and use it to evaluate one of the book trailers.
  6. Using the classroom library or the school library, allow time for students choose their books.  Assign students to read their books before the next session.  Allow ample time for students to complete their novels before the next session.


  1. Choose a book trailer from one of the websites and watch it together.
  2. Project the printout Book Review Template and complete it for the book trailer.  Cover the following details.
    • Introduce the book: Includes the title, the author’s name and the genre.
    • Tell about the book:  Introduce the main characters and action.  Don’t try to tell every detail.
    • Tell about your favorite part of the book or make a connection: Persuades the audience to read the book and leaves the audience wanting to know more.  For example, explain what the main character has to overcome but don’t tell if he/she is successful.
    • Give a recommendation: Provides closure for the book trailer.  It also helps match the perfect reader for the book.
    • Short and sweet is best.
  3. Check that students have completed their books.  Hand out the printout Book Review Template and explain to students that these will become the script for their book trailers. Therefore, they will write in complete sentences.
  4. Have students work on completing the printout.  Help those who need extra assistance.
  5. Hand out the Checklist for Book Trailer Script.  Partner students together to read each other’s script, complete the checklist of their partner’s script, and offer suggestions to each other.  Allow time for students to revise.
  6. As students work, observe time on task as that is one of the categories of the rubric.


  1. Check that students have completed the Book Review Template and give support to those who need additional help to finish.
  2. Have students examine their scripts and consider what types of images they require to illustrate their script.  Tell them to plan on at least one image per sentence.  On the reverse side of the printout Book Review Template, ask students to list what images they want to find.
  3. After students have had some time to plan their images, model for students how to find images.
    • Search for copyright friendly images on the web using the suggested Image Websites.
    • Explain that the bigger the image, the clearer the image will be in Photo Story.
    • Instruct students to click on the picture to see it in full size.
    • Direct students where to save these images.
  4. Allow time for students to find their images.  Help those students who have difficulty finding exactly what they want.  You could also give students the option of drawing their own images and scanning them for use in their digital stories.
  5. As students work, observe time on task as that is one of the categories of the rubric.


  1. Check that students have been able to locate images.  Help those who need extra assistance.
  2. Show the students the tutorial from TeacherTube for a quick overview of the software.
  3. Hand out Microsoft Photo Story Instructions, and model the steps below.  Check that each student is successful in completing each step before moving to the next.
    • First, instruct students to import their pictures, organize the images to match the script, and eliminate black borders, if desired.  Allow students time to work on this before moving to the next section.
    • Model how to add text to the pictures while not obscuring the pictures.  Show students how to place the text on the top, bottom, or middle and then to the right or left.  Demonstrate how to change the color of the text so text contrasts to the background.  Allow students time to work on this step.
    • Model how to record.  Show how to record, listen to playback, and delete the recording.  Remind students of the Book Trailer Rubric that mentions reading clearly and with expression. Allow students time to work on recordings, which will probably take the longest of the steps.
    • Model how to add transitions between the slides.  Allow students time to work on this step.
    • Model how to add music from the selections in the software.  Discuss how music influences moods and how the musical selection reflects the mood of the books. Show how to adjust the volume of the music to be background music so that their own voices stand out in their stories.  Allow students time to choose music.
  4. Allow time for students to polish and revise their digital stories.
  5. At the final session, demonstrate how to make the final step of saving the story so that it can be played on a media player, rather than just in Photo Story.
  6. Hand out the printout Book Trailer Checklist. Partner students and have them check each other’s book trailer.  They can also evaluate each other’s book trailers using the Book Trailer Rubric.
  7. After evaluating each other’s book trailers, allow students time to modify their Photo Story creations.
  8. As students work, observe time on task as that is one of the categories of the rubric.


  1. Give the students each a copy of the printout What Will I Read Next? Explain to the students that as they listen, they will complete this form so that they will have suggestions of what novels they might enjoy reading.
  2. Invite each student to project his/her Photo Story and provide time for students to comment and ask questions.
  3. Allow students time to use the classroom library or school library to check out their next book(s) using What Will I Read Next?


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