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Today’s book publishers know that 21st-century youth no longer browse the library or read book jackets at their local bookstore to select the books they want to read. Instead, kids today watch book trailers. Generally considered video advertisements similar to those created for movies, book trailers have become a rapidly growing trend in the marketing industry for new literary works. What’s perhaps most exciting about book trailers is that students finally have an alternative to the boring book report!
For many gifted and twice-exceptional children, one of the least favorite school tasks is producing a written summary re-telling the main parts of a book they’ve read. One of my younger clients once told me that writing the book report ruins the whole book, and that’s especially true for visual learners. For them, a picture really is worth a thousand words. They find the task of translating the complex mental images they’ve formed while reading a great book into a written summary far from easy.
It was only a few short years ago that book trailers made their appearance. They can take a variety of forms, ranging from full production movie shorts, to Flash videos, to animations, to simple still photos set to music with text to convey the story’s high points. Regardless of the book trailer’s form, the task of creating it merges multiple modalities of information, an important point because research has shown that students who combine language-based learning with tasks of visual representation are more likely to retain information. Studies also suggest that kids today prefer multi-media assignments over paper and pencil tasks.
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons for having students develop book trailers is the opportunity it provides to build 21st-century skills in the classroom. This type of assignment offers students — especially gifted, abstract, 21st-century learners — the option of creating a multi-media project instead of writing a standard book report.
For some educators, the thought of a room full of students all working on computers to build book trailers might feel like an overwhelming technological disaster. But the great news is that the process of making a book trailer using available tools is really pretty simple. So, for anyone who wants to give it a try, the following suggestions will help.
Great Articles on Creating Book Trailers
Once the book trailer is complete, students can upload their videos through YouTube, SchoolTube, or other, book-trailer-specific sites. The school library or a closed, classroom website might also be a good option for students to publish their trailers.
The process of creating a book trailer might seem a bit daunting at first. Just keep in mind that the skills taught go far beyond simply summarizing a book. These are 21st-century skills that could very well prove invaluable to students in the future.
An Important Note
Images and music used in published book trailers must fall under royalty-free or Creative Commons license. Always have students read and consult the terms of agreement and licensing terms available on each site used. It is the responsibility of both teachers and students to find content with appropriate permissions, then use the found content accordingly.
Marlo Payne Thurman, M.S., is a school psychologist, education consultant, and member of the 2e Newsletter Editorial Advisory Board. She specializes in assessment, advocacy, cognitive training, sensory and behavior support, and socio-emotional coaching for individuals from around the country who are gifted yet asynchronous. Marlo operates the Brideun Learning Communities, which designs custom play-based therapeutic programs and, in addition to her private practice, she provides consultative support to new 2e program start-ups. Marlo holds a board position with the United States Autism and Asperger’s Association, is the director of the U.S. College Autism Project, and teaches a course in the Special Education Department of the University of Northern Colorado.