Book Trailers (and why they’re amazing)

I have to be really careful with what I watch on TV, mostly because I have this thing called a photographic memory. Basically, I remember a lot of what I see, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when I need to remember where I left my keys (and it’s great when comparison shopping!) but it’s a massive curse when going to the movies, especially when the trailers come on. Some trailers are a bit scarier than I’d like them to be, mostly because those images stick in my head for a really long time (and quite frequently haunt my dreams). Most people love movie trailers because they get a heads up about what they’re going to see. Likewise, book trailers are really helpful for students because the content may persuade them to read the book. For a lot of people, reading a book plays like a movie in their mind, and seeing trailers helps them to start those visualizations.

There are some great book trailers and some really not so great. As librarians, a great source of book trailers is YouTube*. (This playlist is excellent for MS/HS book trailers!) Book publishers release trailers for new books, and it’s also a place students from all over will upload book trailers or book reviews as projects. Believe it or not, some student-created trailers are better than the publisher! If you just want to browse what’s out there, go to YouTube and type book trailers in the search box. There are SO many!

Now, there are three questions: 1) How can librarians use these book trailers,  2) Where can I share these, and 3) How does one create those trailers?

5 Ways to Use Book Trailers

  1. County/State/National Award Winners. Chances are, these books are popular enough to have book trailers online. This is a great way for students to get a taste of these nominees/winners and increase their circulation in your library.
  2. Previous Winners/Nominees. Speaking of which, do you have books that were previous award winners, or books you think should be checked out but aren’t? See if you can find book trailers online for them. This may re-energize your population and give you a better idea of whether those books needed just a bit of marketing or really aren’t of interest anymore.
  3. Resources for a Collaborative Unit. Doing a pathfinder for a social studies or science unit? Maybe you could film yourself doing book talks for these materials, giving the students a quick blurb about it and maybe showing a page or two from each resource. This would save you from having to booktalk to each class and you could use it year after year, provided you don’t use new resources. 
  4. Spotlight new titles that just came in. Do you think students might overlook some new titles because of the cover or they may not notice them?  Find or create book trailers for these titles. Get the visualization started, and students will start coming in to check those new titles out.
  5. Models for Students. Using some of the ideas below, show students quality (and not so quality) book trailers. Maybe a teacher wants students to create them for a project, or maybe you have a book club that wants to create trailers so other students will read those books, too. Be sure to show them examples of not only what you’re looking for, but what you’re not looking for, too. Showing them both examples is a good way to be sure you’ll get exactly (or as close as possible) to the product you’re hoping for!

4 Ways to Share Book Trailers

  1. On Your Website! Some library sites even have a tab on their page just for book trailers.
  2. Around Your Library. Share them using QR codes on a wall, on the shelf where the book is placed, or as a display. Have a TV in your library? Put a playlist together and set it to repeat so it will play as long as you’d like!
  3. Social Media. Post the link to one video or an entire playlist on your library’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other account.
  4. In Your Online Newsletter! Include the link (or use YouTube’s embed feature) in your library’s next newsletter or blog post. This might be a great way to showcase your own (or your students’) work!

Want to see a playlist I put together for Virginia’s Middle School Readers’ Choice list? Click here. (PS: If you want to create a playlist, create/log into your YouTube account, click on the video you want to use, and underneath the video, look for the button that says +Add To and title your playlist! Then, find the next video and when you click +Add To, your playlist name should already be there! Use the button next to +Add to SHARE!)

*NOTE: If you can’t show YouTube at school, a great site to try is safeshare.tv. It removes all the ads and presents it on a different site. Caution: Try one and test it out before having students in front of you! You can also try TeacherTube or Vimeo. Check with your district for regulations on viewing and publishing book trailers.

4 Ways to Create Book Trailers

  1. Animoto. One of the easiest ways to put together book trailers, all you do is supply the text and images, and choose a background and music. Ta da! The products are absolutely stunning and make for some of the best videos. There is a 14 day free trial for you to play around with; however, Animoto has become subscription based. You may wish to consider all of your options before deciding to purchase a subscription.
  2. iMovie/MovieMaker. For more “live-action” book trailers, using apps/software such as iMovie and MovieMaker may be your best bet. These are user-intuitive and there are plenty of videos about how to use them. (Your students will most likely already know how to use both of these!) The best part is that Movie Maker comes on all PCs and iMovie is a free app to download!
  3. PowerPoint & Screencast-o-Matic. Yes, it’s low-tech and definitely won’t be the most engaging of book trailers, but it’ll do in a pinch. Screencast-o-Matic is free and will record the actions on your screen as well as your voice, so you could talk through what’s on your PowerPoint. I would suggest the book cover and additional slides of some photos/images that relate to the book. End with the book cover and maybe its call number in your library! Screencast-o-matic will ask you if you would like to download as a file or upload to YouTube. It’s up to you!
  4. Use your phone’s video app! It’s quick and easy, if you just want to do a book review OR if you have students wanting to act out the book trailer. All you have to do is download the file to your computer and upload it from there.

I know there are so, so many ways to use book trailers and ways to create them and share them. These are just the tip of the iceberg! So why do we care about book trailers? My motto is, it’s all about the students. If book trailers will entice them to read something new – or new to them – then why not? For students who get nervous about talking in front of others, this may be a great way to be sure they participate and share their learning. Plus, students tend to listen to recommendations of their peers so doing book trailers – as simple or as complex as you want – helps them AND us. Mission accomplished!

How do you use book trailers? What software/app do you use?

Feel free to comment and share!

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