Read, Tell, and Sell: CCSS through student book promotions

Getting Started

Consider the Options
There are many options for students when it comes to sharing about a book. Not all of them require special equipment or technology. A simple search for book report alternatives yields many results, such as this one from Education World, and this talk show idea from Annenberg Learner, or this one from Scholastic. Daily work in Readers Workshop that keeps students grounded in the text will give them confidence as they create a project that is an extension of what they read—whether it is a puppet, a diorama of a pivotal scene in the story, a Paper Bag Book Talk, or a daily Book Boost.

Book talks can take several forms, and terminology can vary widely. Perhaps you have given (oral) book talks at as you begin study of a particular genre or as a way of introducing choices for your next series of book clubs or literature circles. This is an excellent way to model before for students begin creating their own talks. Booktalking expert Nancy Keane, creator of Booktalks Quick and Simple for K-12 offers the following tips from librarian colleagues to help you get started if this is new territory for you. Samples are also available here from Random House. An oral book talk can be recorded and saved in a digital format in the form of a podcast.  Podcasts can be placed on webpages, wikis, blogs, etc. and shared with a much wider audience. To create a quick and easy podcast use a tool such as Online Voice Recorder or Spreaker
A short, written narrative book talk can be displayed on library shelves as “shelftalkers” to attract readers. (Bookstores often use these to highlight “staff picks.”) Scholastic offers free, printable shelf-talkers templates.

Digital book talksare multimedia presentations that use a vast array of web tools. Options include:

  • A narrated slideshow created using Narrable
  • A video in which students deliver an oral booktalk while being recorded.
  • A video in which students act out the main story line with added music, images, etc.
  • A book trailer—a very brief video “commercial” to entice readers to read the book.
  • A Voicethread which can become “a conversation in the cloud” about a book. 


Regardless of the method or tool chosen for promoting books, the process requires the same basic steps:

  • knowledge of the book, elements and themes
  • pre-planning
  • preparing content/preparing a script
  • presentation
  • assessment
  • sharing


Depending upon your goals and objectives, you might choose one over the other, and use the relevant information in this article for your particular assignment.

Establish a Purpose
We know our students are more invested they have an authentic purpose for an assignment. Student-created book talks and book trailers provide opportunities to create for a real audience. Certainly students can create these projects for their peers in class. But you might partner with a colleague and approach the assignment from a problem-solving perspective: The second grade teacher next door needs help sharing appropriate kid-tested titles for her students, and your third graders can help by revisiting books they enjoyed last year. The librarian is looking for short, written booktalks to display as “shelf talkers” for all grade levels of students who come to browse. Perhaps she is highlighting a particular genre in the month ahead and needs student recommendations.  Maybe a colleague across the hall wants to create excitement around the books on this year's state book award list. If your students know that outstanding work will be shared on sites such as TeacherTube or Brainshark for a global audience, they will have greater interest in the project.

Provide exemplars and establish criteria
Students' familiarity with movie trailers makes it easy to introduce video book talks and book trailers. There are many sites that offer high-quality examples, and many book publishers place their trailers on YouTube.  Teacher-librarian John Schumacher maintains Watch. Connect. Read, a blog with publishers' book trailers to get students excited about new and forthcoming books. Scholastic is an excellent resource for video booktalks. If you teach younger children, you can watch some excellent book trailer exemplars from the students at Diplomat Elementary School to encourage and motivate your class. 

Teachers of middle and upper elementary students might want to head to the Digital Booktalk site from Florida Gulf Coast University to browse a large selection of book talks. Find one to introduce a chapter book you plan to use for a read aloud. While you are there, go to the Director page and view the three minute video that shows students talking about how their views on reading changed once they began creating book trailers.

After viewing a number of exemplars, have a discussion about what the trailers have in common, and what elements are especially effective. As a class, use this discussion to develop guidelines and decide upon criteria for your class assignment.

Additional sources for book trailers appear in the Resources section of this article.



IntroductionCommon Core ConnectionsGetting Started
Assisting StudentsAssess, Reflect, and ShareAdditional Resources