Fun Ways to Upcycle Old and Worn Picture Books

by Charnaie Gordon

Image credit: Liam Norris/Getty Images

If you’re a diehard bookworm like me, the thought of throwing away old books probably makes you cringe — am I right? Whenever some of our beloved picture books start getting worn out, we upcycle them into things we’ll use. This way, we still get to keep our treasured books and make good use out of them. By using recycled and reusable materials, affordable craft supplies, and a glue gun, you can turn books into so many different items — including jewelry, furniture, décor, and more.

Old and worn out picture books don’t have to be relegated to your recycle bin. Try some of these book craft ideas instead or come up with your own!

  • Greeting Cards

    Simply tear out old book pages and turn them into greeting cards that you can use for all types of occasions — birthdays, graduations, and more. Fold a book page in half and glue a blank piece of paper inside. Write your message on the blank paper and gift it! These homemade cards are usually a hit at children’s birthday parties.

  • Pinwheels

    Who doesn’t love pinwheels? Your kids will love making — and playing with — pinwheels made from old book pages. Use lollipop sticks, wooden sticks, or wire to attach your folded book pages. Give them a spin and watch them twirl!

    Learn how to make your own pinwheels here.

upcycle books
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  • Coasters

    Using ceramic tiles, book pages, and a few layers of decoupage glue and varnish, you can create beautiful coasters. It’s fun to upcycle old book pages into meaningful gifts or holiday-themed decorations like coasters for placing hot or cold beverages on.

    Learn how to make your own coasters here.

  • Bookmarks

    Using your favorite book pages, fold them into a rectangular shape and add ribbon. To make them more durable, you can laminate the bookmarks before adding the ribbon.

  • Craft Stick Puzzle

    Making craft stick puzzles is one of my go-to easy crafts for toddlers. All you need is craft sticks, scissors, and glue. This is a great activity for younger kids ages 2-4. My kids used to have hours of fun putting together these puzzles. Bonus: this activity helps with developing fine motor skills and can be a great teaching tool too.

    Learn how to make your own craft stick puzzle here.

  • Table Runner

    You can make an adorable table runner from old book pages by taping the pages together and using an edge-puncher to create a decorative border. To ensure the table runner is a sturdy, you may want to lacquer the book pages so it’s not too fragile. This would be great to use for literary themed parties or celebrations.

    Learn how to make your own table runner here.

  • Envelopes

    When giving gift cards or cash as a present, it’s fun to use unique envelopes. This is a great idea for books that have missing or torn pages that can’t be donated.

    Learn how to make your own envelope here.

  • Upcycled Art

    Why not turn your old worn out book pages into a work of art?  Use a blank canvas, book pages, a paintbrush, and acrylic matte medium to create your artwork.  Hang the finished piece in your home or gift it to a friend or family member.

upcycle books
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