Popcorn and the Power of a Great Book Trailer

There’s nothing like seeing a great movie in a theater. First of all, there’s the popcorn. Movie-theater popcorn is unlike anything you can microwave or cook on the stove. There’s the anticipation of a great film and spending 2 hours just enjoying the movie. And there is leaning over during the previews and whispering to the person that you are with “I think we can skip that one,” or “That one looks awesome.” Movie trailers are designed to capture our attention, draw us in, and make us want to come back to the movie theater and purchase a ticket.

Why not look at book trailers in the same way? A great book trailer can draw in excited readers and create excitement for reading.

In our school district, we have what is known as one-hour lunch. It’s exactly what it sounds like it should be: everyone in the building has lunch during the same one hour block of time during the day. Teacher’s sponsor a club, provide tutoring, or just allow students to hang out and socialize during half of the hour and are closed for their own lunches during a part of the hour. It is a great way to get students involved in the school community without worrying about transportation for after-school activities. School libraries remain open during lunch with a variety of activities happening throughout the week.

As the specialist for my district for school libraries, I frequently have the pleasure of visiting our 22 school librarians and libraries. Recently, I was stopping by one of the schools in my district and dropped in on a spectacular day during lunch in the library. Allow me to tell you all about it. Remember, how I mentioned book trailers earlier…. I’m coming back to that!

When I walked into the library, at the beginning of one-hour lunch, the first thing I saw were rows and rows of chairs set up in movie theater style. I smelled popcorn. Students were streaming into the school library, being handed a bag of movie-theater style popcorn and finding a seat.

As the school library filled and students armed with popcorn found their seats, the lights dimmed and the school librarian took the stage. She explained to the students that they were going to have the opportunity to sign up for lunch-time book clubs after watching book trailers for each of the books.

The fun began. The screen flickered to life and started showing the trailer for The Sun iI Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Because this book is a feature film, the librarian chose to use the movie trailer. The students were transfixed. At the end of the book trailer, she paused and told the students which teacher would be sponsoring this particular book club and where to sign up. What an amazing collaboration between the school library and the classroom teacher! Teachers supporting the school library by sponsoring the book club during lunch hour and encouraging conversations about reading.

The trailers continued. After each trailer, the librarian took 30 seconds to let the students know where to sign up and which teacher was sponsoring.

All told, over 100 students signed up to participate in a book club that day during lunch. That’s the power of a dynamic school librarian using great book trailers to captivate student interest.

I went back to the school a few days later and talked to the school librarian about what I had witnessed. I told her that there is nothing better than walking into a school library and witnessing the rapt attention of students who were certainly captivated by what was going on in the library.

I also asked her about how she put this together:

  • Find books with great trailers that will interest students. At the bottom of this post, there will be a few suggestions.
  • Using YouTube, create a playlist of book trailers that you can access to share with students.
  • Approach your teachers. Chances are you know which ones will be happy to sponsor a book club. Give them choices from what you’ve found and let them decide which they would like to sponsor.
  • Decide on how many students each group can handle. Set your limits.
  • Order the books. Whatever your budget, you can usually find some great books in paperback or get a discount for ordering multiple copies.
  • Create sign-up sheets so that teachers and students will have a record of which book club they will be attending.
  • Offer incentives. They can be small. One example: each student who completed book club was entered in a raffle to win a small gift card or a t-shirt.
  • Have fun with it. In this instance, the projector played the book trailers on the wall, and popcorn was provided. Lighting was dimmed, and the seating was rearranged to make a more movie theater like feel. A little ambiance goes a long way.

Book trailers can be a great way to get even the most reluctant of reader to decide the time is right to pick up a book. So many books are coming to the big screen that finding trailers and fitting them into the library is easier than ever.

Don’t have one-hour lunch or time for multiple trailers? Here’s some suggestions for fitting them in no matter your schedule:

  • Add book trailers to a PowerPoint presentation or YouTube playlist and stream them on a monitor in your library. People will stop and look.
  • Create a bulletin board using QR codes and book covers that link out to the book trailer.
  • Have book trailer Friday on your morning announcement show.

Author: Jennifer Sturge

Jennifer Sturge is a Specialist for School Libraries and Digital Learning for Calvert County Public Schools. She has been an educator and librarian for 28 years and is always looking forward. She is a member of ALA and AASL,was the 2020-2021 President of the Maryland Association of School Librarians for 2020-2021, a 2017-2018 Lilead Fellow, and Chair of the AASL Supervisor’s Section of AASL..

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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