Dr. Mark Geary has collected a terrific list of picture book trailers to get you started. You'll find lots of new and old favorites there (for example, Tuesday by David Wiesner; Diary of a Worm and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin; Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, and The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman).
If you dig these and want more, YouTube has several, searchable by name and (not as often) by author or publisher. Publishing houses offer them as well, and most publishers provide search functions to help find them. The Scholastic site, for example, has over sixty terrific, professionally published videos. You can also check out my recent series on Publishers' Resources: parts I, II, III, and IV to see which children's publishers provide videos.
The video below shows how music, movement, and selected text can create anticipation for Farmer George Plants a Nation, written by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Layne Johnson.
If you're a middle grade or high school teacher, definitely check out the Scholastic site, and also take a look at 60 Second Recap, a hip new site which breathes life into high school classics.
Suggested Uses for Book Trailers
So how can classroom teachers make the best use of these videos?
- Book trailers can create a sense of anticipation for an upcoming novel or even picture book. A teacher can whet appetites for the next day's reading by showing a book trailer at the end of each day.
- By their short nature, book trailers provide a clear model of summarizing. Trailers may additionally provide models of other literary techniques including cliffhangers, foreshadowing, mood, pacing, and tone.
- Prior to the introduction of a novel, the trailer is an alternative way to provide a general story outline, apart the back cover blurb. This allows students to focus less on the overall "story line" and to concentrate more intently on literary elements. After seeing a preview for a movie, we often feel that we can predict the entire movie's story line, yet we go to see it anyway. Why? Because we want to fill in the gaps that the preview intentionally created. We also want to enjoy the visual elements, the witty banter, the twists and turns that the trailer only hinted at.
- When using a novel as a mentor text, a trailer can scaffold the overall story line. How is that different than the idea above? When teaching my students the importance of using alternatives to "said," for example, I assigned pairs of students two chapters from Gordon Korman's Swindle. Korman is a master at crafting realistic dialogue, and in one chapter alone a student found thirty speaking words other than said, and the word said itself was used just five times (and most often with an adverb). Although students only skimmed to collect the words, they still wanted to get an idea of the overall plot (some students, after all, were assigned Chapters 15 and 16, pretty deep in the action!). The Swindle trailer not only helped students see how their chapters tied into the overall story, it also encouraged over a dozen of them to sign out the book that day.
- Trailers can be used to build critical thinking skills. Allow students to compare the books to their trailers, guiding the discussion with questions such as Did the trailer give you the same feeling as the book itself? Do you feel that the narrator was right for the video, and why or why not? What did the trailer leave out? Why do you suppose those elements were chosen? For what audience is this trailer intended: teachers, librarians, parents, students, booksellers, others? How do you know? What would you change in this trailer and why?
- In some cases, students can even compare one trailer to another for the same book. This alternative book trailer for Swindle can be found on YouTube. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Which segments from each could be combined to make a new trailer that's even better than either of the originals?
UPDATE: My new Twitter friend Tara Lazar (@taralazar) pointed out that there's now a Kids' Lit Book Trailer Ning. How cool is that? Thanks, Tara. See? Twitter is a good thing!