Viewing & Creating Book Trailers: A School Library Orientation

Viewing & Creating Book Trailers: A School Library Orientation - Captivate 8th grade ELA students during School Library Orientation with a technology-based lesson. Students use cell phones to scan QR codes which are linked to online video booktrailers, generating excitement for books, for the school library, and for their first project: creating their own video booktalk. #NoSweatLibraryGiving a Library Orientation for 8th graders is a real challenge. They’ve already been through two orientations as 6th and 7th graders, so we need something fresh that rejuvenates their interest in visiting the library. There’s a significant maturing that takes place during the summer between 7g and 8g, so we need an activity that that isn’t childish or boring, that provides guidance but not overt supervision.

I tried several ideas my first few years, but when 8g ELA teachers told me they were beginning the year differently, with a video book-talk, I knew that using cell phones to scan QR codes and view online video book trailers would captivate these students. And the teachers would appreciate the “sneak peak” to get students excited to create their own book trailers.


First I show them how easy it is to make a book-talk as a video. In my browser I go to the copyright-free image site Pixabay and enter a search term, then choose an image and show them how to save it into their personal folder.

snip of hut search on pixabay composit of booktalk images

I explain that the essence of a good book trailer is to choose just a few really great images to highlight key scenes in the early part of the book’s story, images that will entice others to read the book. I show the images I’ve already saved for my book trailer, mentioning that using a combination of color and monochromatic images can create mood.

Next I show students Adobe Express, an online app that allows them to upload images, enter text, choose music, then create a video slideshow. (It’s free, but you need to sign up. There are others that are also good for educational use, like Stupeflix, and WeVideo.) I quickly show them how to upload an image, add some engaging text to promote the book, and choose some appropriate music provided within the app; then I show my 51-second book trailer example video. (But don’t expect to find this book—it’s an imaginary one I may someday find time to write!)


Promote Reading with Video Book Trailers at School Library Orientation - Promote student reading with a hands-on School Library Orientation using QR codes linked to video book trailers. Show them how easy it is to create their own video booktalk using copyright-free images and a slide-to-video app. #NoSweatLibraryI tell students their next activity is using their smartphones to scan QR codes & view book trailers. These book trailers can help them choose a good book to check out, and it gives them an opportunity to see examples of what they might do. 8th graders are ecstatic to use their smartphones right at the start of the school year for a legitimate school activity, and I quickly show them how to get a QR reader for their iPhone or Android device if they don’t already have it. I ask them to partner with others at their table who don’t have a smartphone, then I let them loose to scan the strips of paper on their tables that have sets of QR codes. The next 15 minutes is a joy to behold!

Many students choose to check out one of the featured books, so I switch out the QR strips during the day to feature different books for students to check out. Regardless of which book each student checks out, they’re already talking about how they’ll make their own book trailer. I call that a successful orientation.


Several websites offer book trailers, and over the years I’ve accumulated a list of URLs to turn into QR codes. To get you interested in creating book trailers with your students, view some from the sites listed below to see how easy it is to create one.

booktrailers4all – the original! Some are older, but still the best for showing how to use PPT or Google slides to create a video booktalk.

Jill Slapnik – she has 514 videos in various playlists.

Penguin Books USA | Penguin Middle SchoolPenguin Teen

Scholastic – many book trailers and video booktalks!

Simon & Schuster Books


Amanda Kordeliski – a HS librarian with 21 trailers.


Do let me know in the comments if you have found some other good booktalk or booktrailer sites.

line of books laying down - indicates end of blog article

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2 thoughts on “Viewing & Creating Book Trailers: A School Library Orientation

  1. How wonderful! What a great lesson, and so well-timed to happen at the start of the year. I like how your teachers use a book trailer as a beginning of the year project. I think that’s a phenomenal way to begin. And showing them steps, but giving them the reins is just what they need. Thank you for sharing your wonderful idea!

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