Introduction: Book Making for Kids!

Last year for my birthday, a close friend gave me a home made book full of blank pages.  I really love it and keep drawings for all of the furniture projects that I build in it. 

It turns out that my kids also love it, but wanted to make their own books and write their own stories. This was an awesome Sunday project.

Things needed:
Old books
Paper (for kids, copy paper is fine (about 15 sheets per book) or nice art paper if you want a nicer book)
Kite String
Maybe a drill or a hammer and nail
Ideas on what the books should be about

Other Metrics
Total cost about $2
Total time about 4 hours, including glue / paint drying
Total time actually making the book, about an hour
Amount of fun: tons.

Step 1: Buy Some Books

Ah, maybe you think that this is cheating, but I don't have a compact, hard-cover, book binder in the garage or anything, so we needed to go buy some books.

The hard part, which I thought would be the easiest, was buying books.  We went to the local Goodwill to get them.  It turns out Goodwill is pretty particular about taking used books in and doesn't really have too great a selection.  I'd recommend going to a local used book store or finding out if your local library has old books for sale.

The important part is the size.  We used standard 8 1/2 x 11 photo copy paper for our books so the size of the book couldn't be bigger than a sheet of that.  Ideally, as was the case for the book on the right, it was a little bit smaller.

Also, we went with 10 sheets of paper.  Don't get a book that is too thick, otherwise it will go together all weird.  If you can, find a hard cover book that is slightly smaller than 8 1/2 inches tall, with fewer than 100 pages, you'll be in the money.  Otherwise, find the shortest possible book in that size and buy it.

Our two books cost $1.38 with tax.

Step 2: Surprises!

This really has nothing to do with making a book, but is something cool none the less.

Sometimes, when you buy used books, you find crazy cool things on the inside.  This stamp was on the inside of one of our books.  Of course, my son loved it.  Knowing that we were going to have to cover it with the cover of our new book, we snapped a photo of it so that we could print it out and glue to the inside of his new book.

If you happen to the with The Marine Society of London, I'm sorry I defiled your book, but it is making a little boy really happy.

Step 3: Tear Out the Pages

Get a utility knife and carefully cut out the pages of your old book.  You can cut a line down the spine and inside cover of the book.

Do this twice and your pages will pop right out!

Recycle them.  Or, read the book you bought.  Who knows, it might be good.

Step 4: Make Your Pages

Once you've got your old pages cut out, it's time to make your new pages. 

We used 10 sheets of paper per book which makes about 16 pages (less the two you'll tape to the cover).  We picked 10 for a couple of reasons. 
- It was a big enough number that made my kids feel like it was substantial, but I had to talk them down from 100
- It is easy to cut 10 pages without a paper cutter (which I recommend using if you have one)
- You can fold 10 pages and get them to all be about the same size and not have too much overlap
- You can fold 10 pages.

If your new book is smaller than your sheet of paper, simply cut it to size.  You can make book marks from the left over scraps. That is an easy Instructable.

Step 5: Fit Your Cover

Remember in high school when you had to make book covers for your text books out of old paper bags or the crappy paper they sold in the school store?  You never thought that skill would come in handy, but lo and behold 20 years later, it works.

Figure out how much of the old cover you want showing and wrap a piece of paper around that to get your cover.  We wanted a little bit of the old cover to stick out.

IMPORTANT - Once you get your cover on the way you want it, you can either a.) leave it there or b.) take it off.  If you choose to take it off, make sure that you label it with front / back & top and bottom.  I built two books and did all four covers backwards.  I fixed it with some customizations and lots of glue.  A simple dot in pencil to show the top would have saved some time and little kid heartache.

Step 6: Make Some Covers With Awesomeness

These covers rock, but I'm a little bit biased.  Mixed medium of tempra paint, color pencils and Sharpie markers. 

Paint your new covers and let dry for a couple of hours.  Little kids paint thick.  Keep this in mind and really let your paint dry.  In another step, you'll need to press the book down pretty hard.  You don't want paint  smearing on your cover or on your counter.

Step 7: How Do You Bind This Thing?

Head out to your garage and get a little tiny drill bit and drill some holes through the center of your book as indicated in the picture.  3 of them to be exact.

If you don't have a drill with a teeny, tiny drill bit, you could always use a mid-sized nail and a hammer (it's only 10 pages). 

I went drill.  Get 3 holes in the center of your book. Then run kite string through the holes and tie it all together in the back.  You know have a string bound book with no cover.

Step 8: Glue It All Together

This was the fun part for the kids.  First, take a glue stick and rub it all over the hard cover of your old book and apply your new cover.  Wrap the ends around and glue or tape them to the book.

By now, you should have a hard bound book with your new cover, but no pages.  There is a simple remedy.

Take your pages that you strung together in the previous step and carefully lay them along the spine as if you were reading the book.  Make sure that the spine of your string book is close to the spine of the cover. 

Cover the first page with glue and turn it over and affix it to the hard cover.  Do the same thing for the back cover.  Give it about 5 - 10 minutes for the glue to dry.

Step 9: Begin Writing

I'd suggest that the kids start thinking about what story they want to write pretty early on as this dictates the cover that they will create, but it really doesn't matter.  They are writing their own book.  How awesome is that?