Burying the Book Report: Using Book Trailers in the Classroom


book trailers in the classroomCall me crazy, but one of my favorite things about going to the movies—next to stuffing myself with popcorn, of course—is getting there early to check out the previews.

I'm not sure when it happened, but publishers like Simon &Schuster have actually started making trailers for books, giving previews a life outside of the theatre. It’s an impressive and rather ingenious marketing strategy, but I happen to think that book trailers also have some promising applications for the classroom.


Burying the Book Report: Using Book Trailers in the Classroom

The idea would be to have your students create their own book teaser-trailer with free and easy-to-use software from Animoto. There are a number of spins you could put on the assignment. Maybe you want to assign a different chapter (or section of a chapter) to each student and have them create trailers based on their assigned section. Once you are done, you could have your students upload them to YouTube or their own personal blog and discuss them as a class to see how each trailer works in a rhetorical way.

Regardless of how you use the project, you need to know where to start. We’re going to walk you through the process.

Download Animoto
Animoto is a web-based video creation app, so there’s nothing to download and it’ll work whether you’re using a Mac or a PC. The Lite version is FREE, but limits you to creating 30-second videos. If you’d like to create full-length, HD videos, you can upgrade to Plus or Pro for a nominal fee.

How does it work? Browse Animoto’s photo and music library (or upload your own), add text and watch Animoto do the rest. That’s why Animoto is particularly great for younger kids. Instead of getting bogged down with cumbersome software, your students will be producing eye-popping book trailers in no time.

An added bonus with this app is that your students can copy and paste video’s pre-generated HTML code and share their work through social network sites or on their own blogs with a simple click.

Using Images
You’ll quickly exhaust Animoto’s photo library, so we suggest you look elsewhere for “royalty-free” images. Here’s where you’ll find them:

  • Flickr
    If you click on the link above, you’ll be taken to Flickr’s “advanced search.” Once you’re there, click on “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content.” Since your students aren’t going to be profiting—at least financially—from their projects, they are free to “share” or “remix” any creative-commons-licensed photo to their hearts’ content.
  • Animal Photos
    All animals. All “royalty-free,” creative commons-licensed content.
  • Dave’s Free Photos
    Browse 2,000 of Dave’s nature, people, city, objects and Holy Land photos—all high-resolution and all FREE.
  • Retronaut
    One of our favorite sites, especially for historical photos. Narrow your search by ads, brands, animals, architecture, art, books, ephemera, places, toys, TV and film, just to name a few. You also have the option to search by any decade from 1700 to 2010.
  • Morgue File
    The morguefile contains photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used however you like—as long as you’re not making financial gains from it. Out of politeness to the artist, they simply request that you credit the photographer when possible.

Using Music
As with Animoto’s photo library, you’ll find that their music selection is also rather sparse. If you want royalty-free music or sound effects, here’s where you’ll find them:

  • Partners in Rhyme
    Use as many of these royalty-free music loops an audio files as you like. In return, Partners in Rhyme only asks that you give their site a link on your website or blog.
  • Free Sound
    Looking for a grenade explosion? A barking dog? A slamming door? A wailing child? Look no further. Freesound is a huge, collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps all released under Creative Commons licenses.
    Download our FREE guide: 50 No-Nonsense, No Fluff Apps for Teachers

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Replies to This Discussion

Have not thought about this, but could get kids intersted.

Hi, Darcy: Thanks for commenting. If you decide to give this a try with your class, keep me posted on how it goes!

I love this idea! I find that some students have trouble picking out relevant information. This would be a great project to get them thinking about the "who, what, when, where and why" in a hands-on, visual way.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Rachel! If you decide to give this a try, keep me posted on how it works with your students.

Have a great day.


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