How to Make a Paper-Bag Book Cover

Paper-bag book cover
Photo by Terri Mauro

Remember how you used to cut up a paper bag and use it to make a cover for your schoolbooks? You may have forgotten the steps in the years between your own school days and your child's questions about how to make a paper-bag book cover. This quick how-to will remind you how to cut, fold, and slip one on.

See an illustrated version of this how-to.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: A few minutes

Here's How:

  1. Cut open a brown paper shopping bag. Remove the flap formed by the bottom of the bag so that you have one large sheet of brown paper.
  2. Place the book in the center of the paper.
  3. Wrap the paper up across the bottom of the book and make a crease along the bottom cover.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for the top of the book.
  5. Remove the book from the paper.
  6. Fold the paper up at the bottom crease and down at the top crease. You should have a strip of paper big enough to cover the book from top to bottom.
  7. Place the book back in the center of the paper. Wrap the paper across the front of the book from left to right and adjust the book position until the two ends of the paper are even.
  8. Fold the overlap around the front cover of the book and make a crease. Then insert the front cover of the book into the slot created by the paper folded over at the top and the bottom. Slide the paper down over the book until you hit the crease.
  1. Repeat Step 8 for the back cover of the book.
  2. If the cover fits snugly, you can stop at this point. If it seems a little loose or the top and bottom folds are not lying flat, you can use small pieces of tape to pull the front and the inside flap together a little more securely.


  1. If your supermarket no longer offers paper bags, buy a roll of the brown paper designed for wrapping parcels and use that instead. Cut a piece long enough to cover the front, back and spine of the book with at least three inches of overlap at either end.
  1. Do not tape the paper cover to the actual cover of the book; the paper cover will move a little when the book opens, and you could damage the book cover.
  2. If your child likes and the teacher allows, decorate the cover with drawings or stickers.
  3. While many kids can learn to make these covers themselves, children with special needs may struggle with the fine-motor skills and sequencing involved in getting it just right. Try working together, letting your child press down the creases after you've measured them, place the book on the paper, measure out the tape for fitting the cover, and decorate the cover. You can also try backward chaining to slowly teach the steps, always ending with an experience of success.

What You Need:

  • Textbooks
  • Paper bags or a roll of brown parcel paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape

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