Re-Imagining the Book Report – Part 2

It’s the week before the holiday break and my students are ready to spend time with family and friends. This can be a challenging time for teachers as we try to harness enough energy in our classrooms and maximize our teaching time before we reach the finish line! In a previous post, I discussed the benefits of re-imagining book reports as book trailers and how this work can energize reading workshop.

The book report is a reading workshop staple that offers important learning opportunities for students. Book trailers do as well. Many of the same goals we have for our students when we assign book reports can be accomplished through digital literacy. The creation of book trailers helps to broaden our students understanding of literacies from a static, conventional, print-based conception to an appreciation of literacies as a shifting, evolving, and dynamic force.

So here’s how I get students started!

It’s important to show students a good model of a book trailer. Here’s one I show to my 6th graders on a book they’ve read and loved: The Crazy Man by Pamela Porter. It is a good model of the type of work I hope they’ll do.

After viewing it, I asked students to brainstorm some of the essential elements of book trailers that they think should be included in their work. In addition to stating literary elements such as setting, mood, and theme, my students noted that the most important element of a book trailer is to persuade the audience to read the book.

Below are a few Trailer and Tech Tips that help students make awesome book trailers:

Trailer Tips

Tech Tips

Plan! Use a Book Trailer Storyboard Outline to plan the format and order of your trailer. Which parts of the book will you feature? What images will you need to find? Plan! Collect images. Save them as jpeg’s in a Google Folder that can be uploaded later.
Content! Use literary elements to convey the storyline. Present parts of the book that help to show mood, setting, and theme. Pique interest without giving away too much of the book, particularly the end. Software! Select user-friendly software such as WeVideo, Photostory 3, or Movie Maker. View a tutorial to understand how it works. Ex.


Production! Use the cover of the book with the title and author. Select images and music that match (not distract from) the story. Speak clearly and at an appropriate pace during voiceovers. Production! Layout first! Once each scene is in place, then experiment with special effects such as music, movement, color, etc. Remember to focus on the purpose of this work. The trailer should persuade the audience to read the book!


There is no one right way to make a book trailer. Focus on the goals you have for your specific learners and what you’d like them to be able to demonstrate as readers. As mentioned previously, other important learning opportunities for students include: enjoying the creative process, appreciating each other’s strengths and talents as they work collaboratively with their peers, and discovering how to advocate for their needs by seeking help from teachers and digital sources.

So next week, on the last day before our break, we’ll be enjoying the fruits of our labor… with popcorn, of course! I’ll be sure to post an example of my students work. And I look forward to sending my students off with books in hand that they are excited to read!




Sonja Cherry-Paul has been an educator for the past 17 years. She is a middle school English teacher and co-author of Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning and Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach. Sonja is a Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards committee member who is committed to celebrating authors and illustrators who address issues related to social justice.