Creating a book trailer using iMovie

Resource type

  • Creative, using information technology skills
  • Can be individual or paired
  • Project (will require at least a week of class time, probably more if your students have not used iMovie before)

Assessesment notes

Students have to use a range of skills in this type of assignment, all of which can be assessed:

  • Comprehension of symbols and images
  • Writing their own text to convey comprehension, key details and messages
  • Listening and reading skills: finding music with lyrics to suit tone and mood of their trailer

Related book reviews


Materials needed

  • Computers with iMovie installed (note: iMovie projects are not transferrable between computers, so students will have to be able to use the same computer each time they work on this project)
  • Decent Internet access
  • Studenst will each need a USB to collate their images
  • Copies of the book they are creating the trailer for


This activity is a great way to let students get creative in their response to a book.  It allows you not only to assess student comprehension of the text as a whole, but also their attention to details such as imagery, symbolism and themes.  I have also used this activity to familiarise students with using Creative Commons licensed media, helping to promote principled use of material on the Internet and academic honesty.  Here are some suggested steps to introducing the assignment and supporting the project:

1.  Introduce your students to Creative Commons.  There is an excellent comprehensive introduction to this created by Katy Vance, the secondary librarian at Luanda International School.

2.  Explain the assignment.  I give the following information to students:

    • They are going to promote the book we have been reading to other students their age
    • They are going to create their own book trailers which communicate the key details of the plot (without spoilers!)
    • They will introduce the main character(s)
    • They have to communicate one or more of the key themes
    • They can only use Creative Commons licensed images and music

3.  Give your students a blank storyboard (use 8-10 blank squares), and ask them to plan their ideas for what they would like to communicate in their book trailers.    I also ask them to write out the text they want to add next for each image.

4.  Show your students some examples of book trailers.  I draw their attention to the features I would like them to create in their own trailers.

5.  Begin by having student experiment with different search commands using the Creative Commons search page.  Here is a tutorial you can use, also created by Katy Vance:

6.  Ask students to search for 8-10 images.  This step takes some time as you will need to encourage them to broaden their searches, because they mostly will not get Creative Commons licensed images which match their search terms perfectly.  Make sure that they check the licenses for the images, as sometimes copyrighted images slip through the Creative Commons search filter.  Ask students to save their images using the following formula (this is on the last slide of the above presentation):
Name of image_site_author_license
7.  Introduce iMovie to your student.  If you are not a confident iMovie user yourself, you can use Katy Vance’s tutorial.  Students will need time to re-work the order of their images and start adding text.  Allow 2-3 lessons for this stage.
8.  Once they have the images and text in order, ask students to search for Creative Commons licensed music.  These searches can be done from the same search Creative Commons page.  You can see how to add music to an iMovie in Katy Vance’s tutorial.
9.  Make sure the students to add  image attributions to the end of the trailer (see the example below).  They can also license their trailers with their own Creative Commons license
10.  For the final editing of the book trailers, you could give students a check-list and ask them to peer edit their iMovies, checking off the criteria which you have asked them to meet in their assignment.  An example of this would be:
  • (Creative Commons licensed) 8 images or more which communicate the plot in the trailer
  • 250 words of text
  • No spelling, punctuation or grammar errors
  • (Creative Commons licensed) music which is suitable for the mood of the trailer
  • The name of the author and the book are included
  • An image attribution page
  • The trailer has a Creative Commons licensed

11.  Export the iMovie:

  • Go to the ‘share’ tab in iMovie
  • Click on ‘export iMovie’
  • Pick the size you want (I usually choose ‘large’)
  • Your iMovie will download into MP4 format

12.  If you would like to, you can upload your trailers onto Youtube


Example book trailer for The Skin I’m In by Sharon G Flake
This book trailer was created by one of my students in year nine (grade eight)

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