Education Opinion

Promote Books with Free Online Multimedia Slideshow Tools

By Patrick Ledesma — November 15, 2010 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Have you ever been in a grocery store that gives free food samples? Sampling gives you the opportunity to try the food so you can decide if it’s worth buying. And sometimes, the samples are enough!

Many technology companies offer similar opportunities to get samples through either a free educator or basic account with limited, but useful, features. And, if you like the sample, just like in the grocery store, you can decide if you want to purchase the full product.

The free educator or basic account will often provide you with many powerful and useful tools for classroom use, and you may decide that paying the subscription for more features is worth it.

Today Mrs. Carmenates, Library Media Specialist, and I feature two easy tools to make multimedia slideshows that you can start using immediately after you read this blog post.

When I asked Mrs. Carmenates what kinds of examples we should show, she said, “Reading! Books! Fun stories!”

OK. So, here we go. The examples below focus on how these tools can be used to promote books since we’ve found that many students enjoy that multimedia hook to get them interested in the story.

Once they start reading, their imagination from reading the text provides the best multimedia experience.


Here is an example of how we promoted the book Found by Magaret Peterson Haddix. (Press the Play icon in the picture or on the menu.)

What is Animoto?

Animoto is an online program that provides tools for you to create videos from images or other videos. You can add text and music, and the program automatically adds transition and other special effects.

Since Animoto is all online, you never have to install the program or need to worry about losing your files once you start creating your video. You work completely in your web browser to create the show. There are templates, videos, and music you can choose within the program. You can upload your own pictures. It’s as easy as sending an attachment in email.

Imagine how you can use this in your classroom or library. You can play the video as part of your book talk to get the students interested in the book. You can run the video as a commercial in your classroom. Or, you can even include the video as part of your teacher webpage. My oh my!

Since students are so multimedia oriented these days, why not create “movie trailer” style videos for your literacy program?

Note: The basic free Animoto limits your video to 30 seconds.


Here are some examples of how we used VoiceThread to promote books in our library. It’s not as fancy as Animoto, but listen for the advantage of adding your narrative. (Press the Play icon in the picture. You can also click on our character icons on the side.)

This VoiceThread had multiple slides that play automatically or can be advanced manually with the buttons.

What is VoiceThread?

At its most basic application, Voicethread can be a multimedia slideshow with sound or voice as shown here. But, what makes VoiceThread different from Animoto is the ability to add collaboration and commenting features among different users.

In the examples above, we showed VoiceThread to highlight some books using our “avatars” or online representations (though I really do look like my avatar) to make some comments. If you ever make similar book talks with students, imagine the skills the students learn and practice in writing their narrative or script. They also get practice reading with fluency and emotion.

VoiceThread is also completely online and your work completely from the web browser. You never install anything on your computer. Uploading images or documents from your computer is done through the touch of a button.

Here are more descriptions from the VoiceThread website:

VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.

Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies.

So with higher level applications of VoiceThread (which may require a class subscription), teachers and students can create collaborative presentations using voice, text, images, documents, and edit images with doodling tools to illustrate a concept.

Here is a comparison of your Free Educator VoiceThread Account versus an account with Class Subscription.

In the examples above, we showed a very basic application of VoiceThread to promote books, and there are so many more applications for other content areas and collaborative projects.

We will show other VoiceThread classroom applications in future posts. (Hint: The Doodle tools for math and maps are really cool.) For those wanting to see more, there are excellent help documents available on the site.

Sharing Your Multimedia Creations

Like Animoto, VoiceThread products can be displayed on websites similar to shown here. Both these tools have features that help you “embed” or share your creation online.

So, try these tools to add some multimedia slideshows to your teaching.


We do not have any affiliations or relationships with the companies and products mentioned in this post. For educational and professional development purposes, from time to time, we will feature a variety of tools that we have found useful in our context.

Be sure to check with your technology specialist for any district guidelines for using these tools with students.

Book covers are from LibraryThing (//www.librarything.com/) .

The opinions expressed in Leading From the Classroom are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.