Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating Reading Excitement with Book Trailers

4 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Six 50-minute sessions
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After reading books, students share book talks through digital storytelling.  First students plan scripts and then find images to illustrate their scripts.  They also add text, narration, music as well as pan and zoom effects.  Finally, the joy of reading is prompted through the sharing of the students' digital stories.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Voukon asks why teachers are still promoting, “the tried and true one-size-fits-all conflict action climax book report” that does not generate passion for reading in students.  Rozema suggests students create online podcasts to create enthusiasm for reading because they provide an authentic audience for the students’ work in addition to an opportunity for purposeful writing and revision.  Furthermore, students must make decisions about voice recording and music.  Similarly, digital storytelling requires these actions as well as decisions about visual content. It digital will create enthusiasm for reading and engage students in multimodal literacy.

Further Reading

Rozema, Robert. “The Book Report, Version 2.0:  Podcasting on Young Adult Novels.”  English Journal 97.1 (Sept. 2007):  31-36.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

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



For examples of book trailers, use this website.  Note the link to student-made book trailers.

Search using the terms “book trailers,” and several examples are available.  Also, teachers can use the tutorial for Photo Story.

More searchable student-made examples are available here.

Many schools block YouTube but may allow this portion of YouTube. It is searchable for book trailers.  Also, downloading videos and saving them outside of the school may be an option.


  1. Check that the computers students will use have Photo Story downloaded.  If not, download the software.  Ask your technology coordinator for assistance, if necessary.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the software using the Microsoft Photo Story Instructions and the tutorial on TeacherTube.  Create a book trailer for a book your class has read, or use the websites to find some samples for the students to view in the first session.  Some possible examples are Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhai Lai from YouTube, Rules 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.
  3. Make copies for each student of the printouts What Will I Read Next?, Book Review Template, Book Trailer Rubric, Checklist for Book Trailer Script, Book Trailer Checklist, and Microsoft Photo Story Instructions.
  4. Reserve time in the library or computer lab for five sessions—one session to save images, three sessions to create Photo Stories, and one session for students to share with a partner to check the project before showing the class.
  5. If possible, have the image websites bookmarked on the computers.  If that is not feasible, you can sign up for a wiki at Wikispaces where you can create a class page for the links and where you could post the book trailers.  If that is not possible, make copies of the Image Websites, one per computer.

Student Objectives

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.

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 from YouTube, Rules 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.

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.  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.

Session Three

  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.

Sessions Four and Five

  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.

Session Six

  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?


  • Have students try out other alternative book reports (see Related Resources).
  • Try out other lessons that feature Photo Story such as Digitally Telling the Story of Greek Figures.
  • Establish a class wiki and post the students’ book trailers.  Publish the address to the class wiki for the community to view the book trailers. Also, book trailers could be posted at SchoolTube.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • During the class sessions, observe and note the students’ time on task, as this is one of the categories on the rubric.
  • Review the students’ completed printouts:  What Will I Read Next? and Book Review Template.
  • As students are working on their project, question them about their choices of music and images.
  • Collect the two completed checklists to ensure that students are working together succesfully.
  • Using the Book Trailer Rubric, evaluate each student’s Photo Story and offer the students feedback.
  • Ask students to complete these statements about this project:
    • What I enjoyed about this project was ______.
    • What I found difficult was _____.
    • Next time I will _____.

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