Enter the SCBA Book Trailer Competition!

The wait is over, and you can finally take part in the 2016 Scottish Children’s Book Awards! With the announcement of an exciting shortlist composed of established authors and new faces, there’s plenty for you and your pupils to get stuck into as you read the books, discuss them and vote for your favourites.

But taking part can be much more than simply reading, discussing and voting. If you want to challenge your pupils’ analytical and writing skills while having great fun to boot, you can enter the SCBA book trailer competition.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with book trailers, don’t worry! Book trailers are much the same as movie trailers: a ‘teaser’ for a book designed to capture its atmosphere and characters and reveal just enough of the plot to entice potential readers. The really good news is that we’ve got all the teaching resources you could possibly need to enter.

Taking part [in the SCBAS] can be much more than simply reading, discussing and voting

It’s always invaluable to hear from those who have already entered, and so we asked teacher Joanne Havinden of Elgin Academy to share her experiences of entering last year. Joanne’s pupils Anais Bliaunt, Morven Cumming and Ben Reid won the competition last year with their trailer for Gill Arbuthnott’s book Dark Spell. You can see this trailer, plus all the trailers from Elgin Academy, on this YouTube playlist.


Creating trailers for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards

We really enjoyed creating the trailers for the Older Readers Category books!

The class had studied a film unit on The Shawshank Redemption just before they began working on the trailers, so they were familiar with the different camera angles and the concepts of symbolism in film. They spent time watching some book trailers, deciding what worked well in a trailer, storyboarding and thinking about the themes they wanted to convey and how they were going to actually film their trailers.

The class mentioned that they found Scottish Book Trust’s How To Create a Book Trailer video series very helpful! After watching these, they shared ideas in their groups and thought about the structure of their trailers. They tried to think of specific scenes from their books which would serve the trailer best, and then began thinking more abstractly, considering how to incorporate themes into the trailer and making it more symbolic rather than literal. They noted key points, images and text from their chosen book that might work well in capturing the theme and atmosphere in their trailers.

[The students] were able to start thinking in quite sophisticated ways about the books they had read

Filming the trailers

After lots of planning the pupils began filming using their iPhones/iPods (deeming the school cameras too “old fashioned”!) and uploading the raw footage to the school computer. They sourced sound effects from the internet or created their own and sourced music to go with the trailers.

If you’re looking for music and sound effects on the internet, try Freesound for sound effects and SoundCloud for music. YouTube also has a large range of free tracks and footage available, although you have to use YouTube’s video editor if you want to get access to this content.

The pupils thought carefully about their locations, choosing the places which would best portray the themes and atmosphere of their chosen book.



Book trailers are a challenging task, and the pupils had a few hurdles to get over. They used the editing software SerifMoviePlus, which is a really good programme but they encountered lots of problems with lagging because the iPhone footage was of such a high quality.

Also, the pupils re-shot a lot of footage, determined to get the correct camera angles to suit the scene. They experimented with a lot of different shots before they could achieve the effects they wanted.


The best things about the project

The class applied the knowledge from their film studies unit and were able to start thinking in quite sophisticated ways about the books they had read. They worked tremendously well in their groups because they knew that the trailers had to be completed by a certain date and that they were going to be up against stiff competition from other schools. They were all really proud of what they achieved.

Image credit: Cropped and resized image by Daniel Nanescu on Splitshire

Joanne Havinden

Joanne Havinden is an English teacher at Elgin Academy.