As a long time educator and advocate for literacy, I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the Huffington Post family of bloggers. Films like "Waiting for 'Superman' " and "Race to Nowhere" recently have brought the discussion of education out of the schoolyards and into the boardrooms of our nation. My involvement with the Empire State Center for The Book, The American Library Association and other groups brings me in contact with teachers, parents and educational innovators that deeply care. As I travel around the country both physically and virtually, I will share the educational successes and occasionally the failures that I encounter.
Back in the 1950's Rudolf Flesch was explaining "Why Johnny Can't Read" and in the eighties and nineties we had what has been termed as the Reading Wars between advocates of phonics and Whole Language advocates. Nevertheless, whatever the methodology for the teaching of reading, it has long been the role of teachers, parents and librarians to encourage a love of books and a desire to read for pleasure. A parent reading a bedtime story or a librarian book talking a series of titles all in hopes that a child will pick up a book and read is all a part of that mission.
In recent years, publishers, authors, teachers and students have been using the book trailer, a promotional video, to develop buzz and cultivate readers for a book. Some book trailers are similar to the familiar movie preview while others look like something you will see on MTV. Teachers and librarians are embracing this medium to promote books and encourage reading. Analine Johnson, school librarian at Centeno Elementary School in Laredo, TX and a blogger for James Patterson's Read Kiddo Read website is a avid creator of book trailers to use with her students. Her video 14 Cows for America (Peachtree, 2009) is a fine example of how a teacher-made video commercial will help kids connect to a book.
Students are also trying their hand in creating book trailers with burgeoning enclaves of video creators springing up at the Springston School in Christchurch, New Zealand and the McKillop Elementary School in Melissa, TX. While other educators have been using various methods to get trailers out to potential reader. Michele Harclerode of Lee County, FL has created a website called Book Trailers for Readers and there is a Facebook page called Book Trailers for All hosted by Teresa Schauer a school librarian from Pettus, Texas.
Jon Sciezska, a children author and the past Ambassador for Young People's Literature for the Library of Congress has developed a web based literacy program called Guys Read whose mission is to help boys become self-motivated life long readers. In addition, the program is developing books, Guys Read Library of Great Reading, that will entice boys to pick up a book. The first in the series is Funny Business (Harper, 2010), a collection of short stories edited by Sciezka. It is being promoted with a video that features a numbers of authors including Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid series (Abrams), and Mac Barrnett, author of the Braxton Brothers series (Simon & Schuster).
Want to checkout a variety of book trailers? School Library Journal, a publication for librarians, is hosting the first annual Trailee award to recognize this creative art form. Checkout the nominees and vote!