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Covering Textbooks




Soon after the distribution of textbooks, kids are introduced to another rite of passage: covering them. Schools need to get as much mileage as possible from a supply of textbooks; they do this by asking kids to protect them in paper covers.

A cover made from a cut-open brown paper bag does the trick quite well -- it withstands months of use -- but heavy construction paper, road maps, wrapping paper, or even scraps of wallpaper allow a kid to design custom covers, all of which are just as good, and sometimes better, at protecting books from bumps, scratches, or drippy servings of cheese fries.

The method for covering a book remains the same as it ever was, but that isn't to say that a few stickers used for embellishment and reinforcement wouldn't be an improvement. If kids are too young to cover books themselves, enlist their help in choosing a style; once they're old enough to master the basic technique, encourage creativity for covers that are as unique as they are practical.

Basic Cover How-To
Begin with a piece of paper big enough to wrap around the closed book, adding at least two inches on all sides.

1. Place the book in the center of the paper and fold the paper against the top and bottom edges of the book to make creases. Remove the book and fold the paper down neatly along these creased lines, keeping folds smooth and even.

2. Place the closed book on the folded paper, 2 inches away from the right side; wrap the long side of the paper around the front cover of the book and crease along the edge of the front cover. (It's important to do this with the book closed, or the cover will be too tight.)

3. Remove, fold crisply, then open the book and slide the front cover into the created sleeve. Close the book and crease the other end of the paper against its back cover. Fold down, then open the back cover and slide it into the created sleeve.

Stickers and Tape
Spots and stripes are easy to make with bright stickers and tapes, both of which will also hold a cover in place at the edges.

-Heavy construction paper is embellished with large polka-dots.
-Colorful paper tapes weave a pleasing plaid around books covered in brown kraft paper, and tapes keep sleeves from unfolding.

Plastic Pocket

Everyone can use an extra pocket. Stuck to the front of a book, these keep a class schedule or a supply of self-stick paper flags in plain view. Look for self-adhesive plastic business-card holders or schedule holders in office-supply stores, and affix wherever you like on the cover.

Pocket Fold
Covering a book with two pieces of heavy construction paper gives you a pocket -- a place to slip tests, notes, or a homework reminder. The blue sheet should be as tall as the book plus 2 inches to fold down at the top of the book; the orange sheet should be half the book's height, plus 2 inches to fold up at the bottom. Lay the pieces of paper flat with the orange sheet underneath and its bottom edge sticking out by 2 inches. Fold this edge up, and the top of the blue sheet down, and crease them. At the sides, tape the layers together with double-sided tape.

Notepad Keeper

Keep track of upcoming tests and homework assignments by stashing a little notebook on a textbook cover. Slide two large rubber bands over the front cover of the book, slightly closer together than the width of a small notebook. Slide the back cover of the notebook under the rubber band on the left, and use the rubber band on the right to hold the notebook shut (when you're not writing in it, of course).

Martha Stewart Kids, Volume 5 2002



Reviews (13)

  • pg4363 11 Sep, 2008

    I have always folded in at least 3 or 4 inches to make the front and back sleeves. This helps them stay on, and also creates a place to stick a paper, etc.

    It may help to write the name of the subject or text on the front. That way, sorting through lockers or bags is much easier in the crunch of time between classes, etc.

  • skyeyes 5 Sep, 2008

    NotQuiteJuneCleaver, I agree with you! :-) I would love to make those mice in families to give for Christmas...I would paint each person's initials on the mouse! Perhaps the craft stores will have these? I'll be searching online to see what can be found. :)

  • skyeyes 5 Sep, 2008

    My neice started college this term. Not knowing the dimensions of her textbooks, I think I will cut open some brown paper bags and decorate them and send the covers along with some stickers...she should really got a kick out of them, and she will get a better price when she trades in the like-new textbooks at the end of term, too! :-)

  • LindenBlossom 4 Sep, 2008

    I remember covering our jotters and textbooks when I was at school - woe betide anyone who hadn't got it done by the end of the first week of term! My method involved a lot of trimming and sticky tape. This looks so much easier and quicker, but does it really stay put without some tape or glue?

  • uniquecardcreations 4 Sep, 2008

    Also perfect for old recipe books. For the not so hard cover books I neatly glued a thin cardboard onto the book front and book back covers to reinforce them. Then covered the whole book. Now I don't need to hide my old recipe books!!

  • cmjkennedy 4 Sep, 2008

    So much more fun, creative and environmentally friendly (we are recycling) than the purchased book covers. My kids think everything must be purchased. Also, with oversized books these days, the strechy covers don't often fit!

  • mpegm 4 Sep, 2008

    I must confess that my first experience in using spray adhesives was to spray brown paper bags with fabric remnants so I could cover my books with my fabric scraps. And I bought all sorts of fun wrapping papers when in high school and college to cover my stuff - 30 year later, some are still covered and usuable!

  • NotQuiteJuneCleaver 4 Sep, 2008

    Great how do I make the little wooden mouse???? I can see them as Christmas decorations...a whole family of them. Off track a bit but he really caught my eye!

  • terryrittenhouse 4 Sep, 2008

    To my dismay, kids in Ontario Canada don't do this anymore to their textbooks. We did when I was in grade school in the 60s. I think it teaches kids respect and a reverence for books which, I believe, leads a child to be a reader.

  • julesduncan 4 Sep, 2008

    Wow...I'm going to try this with my daughter's books. What a fantastic idea :)

  • gailtrask 4 Sep, 2008

    I love the idea of using an old map as a cover! How fun for your Geography

  • marcie195 4 Sep, 2008

    I remember making these as a kid. Instead of polka-dots. We would draw flowers.
    Happy memories of the start of a new school year.

  • tinathesnowflake 17 Nov, 2007

    Good idea as you get to put in all your scarp pieces of notes !