Upcycle Old Books For Kid Friendly Crafts


Giving books to the library or to friends is one common way people dispose of old books. But that isn’t the only thing you can do with all those books that are threatening to take over your living space. Here are seven ways you can upcycle old books with your children, starting right now.

1.     Book Bins

Book Bins

I don’t know of as single family that doesn’t have at least one storage bin in their house. They can be unsightly. Cover the face of those bins with the spines of old hardcover books.

For this project, you will need:

  • Glue
  • Utility knife
  • Storage bin
  • Enough spines to cover the face of the bin

Just remove the spines from the books and glue them to the face of the bin. You’re done! Depending on the depth of the storage bin, you can hide those toys or crafting supplies on the bookshelf.

2.     Desk Organizer

Book desk organizer

Your children can keep their desk tidy by upcycling old books into a desk organizer.

For this project, you will need:

  • A stack of books
  • Cardboard tubes or cups (optional)
  • Glue (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Utility Knife

You can find one tutorial for this project here. But, to simplify it a little, these are the steps that I would recommend:

  1. On the top book, trace two circles.
  2. Using the utility knife, cut out the circles. You’ll need to do this a few pages at a time. Once you have the first section of pages cut, use those pages as a guide, working your way through the entire book.
  3. Place the first book on the next book, trace the already cut circles onto the cover, and repeat step two.
  4. Repeat steps one and two until you have your desired height.
  5. Stack the books, and insert the pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, etc.

I recommend keeping the spines on the book as it adds a nice decorative effect.

3.     Picture Frame

Book picture frame

Copious amounts of pictures and stacks of hardcover small-children’s books are two things many families have. Once your child has outgrown their favorite book, you can turn it into a picture frame.

For this project, you will need:

  • Glue or tape
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Hardcover book
  • Photo
  • Photo album corner (optional)

It is as simple as tracing the image, cutting out the frame, and taping or gluing the photo to the inside of the front cover. You can find a complete tutorial on upcycling old books into picture frames here.

4.     Clock

Clock Book

This project will require a little bit more prep time, as you’ll have to purchase a clock set. However, once it is finished, it will be an excellent addition to your child’s bedroom.

For this project, you will need:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Hardcover book
  • Clock set
  • Drill
  • Spray Paint (optional)

Creating a literary clock is as simple as marking the center of the book, drilling a hole, and attaching the clock. The complete tutorial can be found here.

5.     Floating Bookshelf

floating bookshelf

A bookshelf made out of a book? It may be meta, but it is still a wonderful and easy way to upcycle old books (if they’re hardcover).

For this project, you will need:

  • Hardcover book
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • L-bracket
  • Flat-head screws

Find the center of the book, glue and screw the l-bracket to the book’s pages, glue cover of the book to the l-bracket, let dry overnight, and mount it to the wall. Then, stack your books on it. Done! You can read the complete tutorial here.

6.     Planter Box

Book planter box

These books-turned-planters will make for a great present. Plus, as these planters are recommended for succulents, it means a low-maintenance gift.

For this project, you will need:

  • Utility knife
  • Glue
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic bag or parchment paper
  • Dry moss or ground cover
  • Ruler
  • 2-3 small succulents.

Simply add glue to the outside of the pages, open the cover and cut a square box into the pages, line with plastic bag, and plant the succulent. Full detailed instructions can be found here.

7.     Reading Lamp

Reading Lamp

Having a reading lamp with a stack of books as the base is a great idea. This project does require a little more prep time, and a trip to the hardware store. There are two ways you can do this project; one is a little simpler than the other.

For the first method, you will need:

  • Stack of hardcover books
  • Lamp kit
  • Lamp shade
  • ½” drill bit
  • Utility knife
  • 1-1/4” screws
  • 2” screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Spray paint (optional)

The tutorial can be found here.

For the second method, you will need:

  • Hammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Drill
  • Dremel with ¼” router bit
  • ½” drill bit
  • Screw driver bit
  • Wire Strippers
  • Phillips head screw driver
  • Pencil
  • Ceremaic light fixture
  • Pancake electrical box
  • Lamp cord with switch on the cord
  • 6” threaded rod
  • 2” wood screws

The finished project is very appealing and rustic, but it does require a lot of steps and a fair amount of supplies and tools. You can find the complete tutorial here.

Of course, if none of the these projects are for you and your children, you can always do the tried and true cut-a-hole-in-the-pages-to-hide-objects method.


  1. These are great ideas, thanks for offering tutorials that aren’t covered with ads

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *