July 20, 2023

Recycled Book Cover Tutorial

Back to School is on the brain, mostly because of the Elmer's Bag It Forward campaign that I'm participating in, not because my son is going back to school (he's only 2). I was thinking back to the things that we used to do as kids when preparing for going back to school in the fall and one thing I remember is making book covers for our textbooks.
As a frugal mother of 5, my mom was all about recycling and making do, especially because all 5 of us went to Catholic school which meant lots of tuition to pay. She often made us book covers from brown grocery bags, which were durable and free plus they gave us a lot of room to doodle and add stickers to personalize our books.

For this project, I'm using a map which I got in the mail for free.
You could use brown bags, or even a washed and cut open potato chip bag like in this post from Make and Takes.
  • Map
  • Textbook
  • scissors
  • Transparent tape
  • Elmer's glue stick
  • Magazines, stickers, decorative paper, or any other items
Step One
Lay out your map with your book on top of it in the middle to get the sizing right. You don't want too much excess paper or it will be bulky.Cut the map so that it's about 2" longer along the top and bottom fo
Center the book in the middle of the map, then fold it over the book. Be sure the map wraps around the book too, though if it's too long no worries. We'll be trimming it later.
You'll want about 3-4" on each end so that you can tuck it inside the book so that the cover stays on.
Step Two
Center the book on the map, making sure that it's evenly placed between the top and bottom (I'm referring to the top and bottom sides of the book), then fold up the bottom edge to line up with the bottom edge of the book.
Remove the book and make a good crease, then lay the book on top of the fold.
Do the same thing with the top edge
Step Three
Now it's time to fold the flaps in. Center your book again, then fold the front flap over the front cover.

I like to crease my fold along the edge of the book first,
then open it back up and fold it properly.
You can cut off any excess here too. I suggest leaving about 3-4" on the flap.
Step Four
With the transparent tape, secure the top and bottom of the flap to the cover.
Don't tape it to the book, as you want the cover to be able to slide a bit when you open and close it.
Do the same thing to the back cover.
This is a little trickier because after you fold the edge, you need to slide the book inside the flap. Just take your time and remember that you can always turn the book "inside out" to fit it in. Then your book will be nice and snugly covered like this:
Step Five
This step is optional, but it's the best part for the kids. Decorating! Gather your favorite stickers, magazine pages, drawings, whatever and start gluing them to the cover. I took some scraps of decorative paper
and glued it as a band across the middle of the cover.
I wrapped it around the back and folded it over the flaps.
Then I added a flower embellishment and wrote the title of the book on the paper with a Sharpie marker
and also on the side
This cute book cover might, just MIGHT get your child to do their math homework.
Disclosure: I wrote this post as an Elmers Bag It Forward Ambassador, and as a participant in the #BagItForward program, which is a sponsored position.


  1. I did these in high school but nothing like yours. It is really nice.

  2. This is so cute!

    I used to love making covers for my books...

  3. I wish I had a tenth of the creativity you have. I used an old grocery bag and thought I was clever because I used some markers to put the name of the book on it.

  4. Love the map. I'll have to try this, it's been a while since I made a bookcover!

  5. This is such a great idea we had blast with it just wanted to come back and thank you!

    I love the band idea it makes it really different...

  6. I totally forgot how to do these so thank you for the tutorial! Son is getting ready to start 7th grade in a few weeks so he'll be covering all his books. I think it's neat that you've used an old map and I think he might think its fun!

  7. Fount this tutorial via Etsy!
    Very clear steps!


  8. This brings back some great memories from High School. Getting back to simplicity, thank you!

  9. This is great, and I love the recycled map. You made it look SOOO good!


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