Book Trailers

An exciting alternative to classic book reports

A staple project in most middle school teacher's curriculum is a book report. Students read a book, either assigned or their choice from a pre-made list, and write a report about what took place in the story. While this type of project is extremely common, it is also arguably incredibly outdated. Its time for an upgrade to the book report.

For this project, it is ideal to have several different books in mind for students to read. Preferably, split students into groups of 4 or 5 and have each group read a different book individually. After each student has read the assigned book, they will regroup to create their collective book trailer report.

Material and Technology Requirements

  • Computers with internet access and Photo Story
  • Classroom with LCD projector and whiteboard/interactive whiteboard
  • Computer headphones and microphones (optional)


  1. After ensuring that Photo Story has been properly downloaded on the computers the students will be using, explore the program to ensure that you will be able to easily explain to students how to use it. An excellent tutorial can be found here.
  2. It may be beneficial to create your own sample trailer to show students and give them an idea of what their project might be formatted like.
  3. When assigning your students groups, ensuring that each group will have access to a computer, either provided by your school or brought in from home by a student.
  4. Print these handouts for students: Photo Story Instructions, Book Review Template, Book Trailer Rubric, Peer Review Checklist, and Image Websites.
  5. Allow plenty of time in class, 5-6 sessions recommended, for groups to work on their projects.

Session One

  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, Rules by Cynthia Lord, Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm , and How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart. 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 in groups after they have read their assigned books.
  5. Share the Book Trailer Rubric with the students and use it to evaluate one of the book trailers.
  6. Tell the students to finish their books before the next session.

Session Two

  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 in their groups. Help those who need extra assistance.
  5. As students work, observe time on task as that is one of the categories of the rubric.

Session Three

  1. Check that groups 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 groups 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.

Session Four and Five

  1. Check that students have been able to locate images. Help those who need extra assistance.
  2. Hand out Photo Story Instructions, and model the steps below. Check that each group 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.
  3. Allow time for groups to polish and revise their digital stories.
  4. 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.
  5. Hand out the printout Book Trailer Checklist. Pair groups up and have them check each other's book trailer. They can also evaluate each other's book trailers using the Book Trailer Rubric.
  6. Allow students time to modify their Photo Story creations.
  7. As students work, observe time on task as that is one of the categories of the rubric.

Session Six

  1. Invite each group to project their Photo Story and provide time for students to comment and ask questions.
  2. Allow students time to use the classroom library or school library to check out books other groups presented that they may be interested in.
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This is an adapted lesson plan originally created by Kathy Wickline. The original plan can be found here.

I adapted the lesson by allowing students to work in groups rather than individually, as well as implementing BYOD rather than just relying on school provided technology.