We’ve all done them, love ’em or hate ’em…BOOK REPORTS!

Book reports are used to ensure to the teacher that the student has read the book and understood, at least on the surface, what happened in the book.  One thing I never liked about a book report though, is that most of the time all the student was doing was re-telling the story!  There was no check for a deeper understanding of what the author’s purpose for the book was, no insight on whether the student took the lesson that was trying to be taught. And on top of that, they really aren’t very fun to produce!

Getting EXCITED about Book Reports

We want students to be excited to share what they have learned…excited to get to that next book!  It is time to look at other alternatives to the book report. And while we are doing that, how about looking at one with a technology twist?

Let me introduce you to book trailers.  We have all seen the movie trailer concept that is used to promote upcoming movies.  They give a “sneak peek” into the movie, trying to grab your attention and get you thinking about what the actual story is…finding underlying concepts.  It peaks the viewer’s interest and, in many cases, persuades them to go see the movie or purchase it when it is released.  A book trailer works the same way.

After a student reads a book, allow them a chance to create a short video that provides information about the book while also leaving enough questions to grab the viewer’s interest and persuade them to read the same book.  If a student is able to achieve this within a 30-45 second time frame then they are proving that they have achieved a deeper understanding of what the book is truly about.

Creating a book trailer is not very difficult either.  A student begins by creating a few slides in PowerPoint.   Once created, the slides are saved as jpeg images (pictures) that can be imported into another program to create the video, such as Photo Story 3 for Windows (Windows Live Movie Maker if in Windows 7), Movie Maker, or Animoto.  For help with saving PPT slides as images click here.

Which program you use is up to you.  Each program brings something a little different to the table.  How you want your effects may be a determining factor.  Here is an example of the same book trailer done with each program.  Notice the difference in effects for each.


Movie Maker

Photo Story 3

You and your students may find a favorite…you may experiment with all three.  Keep your options open!  For help with any of these programs you can refer to our Digital Storytelling section of our Resources page.

For another perspective on book trailers, check out this post from Holly Dornak last year: Got the Book Report Blues? And more importantly, share with us your book trailers! We would love for you to put those links in the comments section below! So what are you waiting for? Happy “Book Reporting”!