“Once upon a time, there were four teens who loved books”

At Kreutz Creek Library in Hellam, PA, we were fortunate to secure one of the ten YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Foundation Digital Equipment Grants to purchase digital media equipment. One of the requirements for accepting the grant is to create a digital media project connected to the 2019 Teens’ Top Ten using the equipment. The teens at Kreutz Creek Library chose to make a video book trailer of Jen Wang’s graphic fairytale ‘The Prince and the Dressmaker.’ This is the story of what happened next.

‘Once upon a time, there were four teens who loved books. They loved reading so much that their fairy godmother decided to give them a challenge.

“Here are 25 Young Adult novels, nominees for the Teen’s Top Ten list. Choose one and make a video book trailer using this digital equipment.”

“Hooray! Yeet! Wait, what?” exclaimed the teens.

“Listen carefully,” said their fairy godmother, “there’s a catch: you only have 6 weeks to do it!”

In a panic, the teens got out their phones, pulled up their schedules and created a timeline of tasks to complete the project. With the help of the Video Wizard, aka the York StoryMan, they gathered tips and strategies to enhance their filming techniques and set off to video the story. Along the way, they consulted with the YouTube Oracle and learned from its many voices the do’s and don’t-s of making video book trailers. With the help of their fairy godmother, they learned that the casting of gender fluid characters needed to be done delicately and with sensitivity and one teen sought the advice of her non-binary friend about how best to represent them.

Finally, they arrived at the Palace of the Great Editing. Before them stood a bewildering array of alluring and tempting video editing software. First, they tried Blender and very nearly entangled themselves forever in its complexity. Then they stumbled into Openshot and started to make some progress until, at last, the old familiarity of iMovie won their hearts and the video was finally complete. With pride and satisfaction, they submitted their video and lived happily ever after, making more and more book trailers.’

This project was truly a journey for all of us. There were hiccups and challenges along the way, the main one being that everyone assumed everyone else knew more than they did about filming and editing! The time frame gave us focus and determination. I was continually impressed by the teens’ ability to move between digital media platforms, their creativity in troubleshooting and problem-solving and their mutual respect and admiration for the talents of each individual member of the group.

In the end, I realized that making a video book trailer is essentially a type of Book Discussion. In our planning sessions, the conversation about what scenes to include in the video and how to represent the action were truly dynamic and insightful. If you are looking for a way to engage your teens around books, whether they are readers or not, I would highly recommend this: it is storytelling at its best.

~Jennifer Johnson, Kreutz Creek Library 

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