As lovers of literature, tossing books into the recycling bin can feel almost sacrilegious (even that dog-eared paperback that’s lost half its pages). And the nature-lovers in us rebel at the idea of crafting and decorating with brand-new paper when stacks of books and magazines are tossed every day. That’s why we celebrate the idea of giving unsalvageable and obsolete books a second life by upcycling them into book-page crafts.
Creating decorative and useful objects out of old book pages is a beautiful way to share our love of the written word and create a literacy-rich environment for kids—all while saving some trees. It’s also a fun, affordable, and eco-friendly way to deck the halls for special events. So we decided to share seven of our favorite DIY book-page crafts. These are fun activities for all ages that you can do for or with children. Just click the links for tutorials with easy, step-by-step instructions, illustrated with photos of each step.
Tip: Cutting up a book can feel wrong, we know. Choose outdated law, science, or medical texts and irreparably damaged books of all kinds for guilt-free upcycling. Used or outdated workbooks are also great candidates for book-page crafts (for example, check out the last project in this post).
Making your own streamers and decorations out of recycled paper is a beautiful way to keep birthday parties and other happenings eco-friendly. This DIY pinwheel banner upcycles book pages to create some lit-themed decor for your next event or photo shoot. Create an elegant black-and-white look with plain-text pages and white ribbon, or add some festive color with bright ribbon or illustrated pages (obsolete encyclopedias and nature guides can be great sources).
Cooling down on a hot day has never been cuter! Kids will love this craft to create their own personal fans. These sweet book-page fans are easy to make and fun to use. You can keep them simple or get as detailed as you want in coloring and decorating them. Get creative with stickers, glitter, or whatever else you have on hand. You could even glue feathers along the top of your fan! Store finished fans in a vase as a crafty centerpiece, ready for hot weather, or take them along to keep kids (or yourself!) comfortable on outings. A literary way to keep your cool!
You can string these pretty origami butterflies along a garland, sprinkle them over a table or shelf-top, or perch them in a houseplant or festive tree. What a fun way to celebrate nature and reading! This DIY book-page craft is easy once you get the hang of the folding, and a fun project to do with kids. Our post breaks down the folding into easy-to-follow steps, with pictures of each step. So go ahead and get crafting!
When kids aren’t together, sending hand-written notes is a great way to stay connected, not to mention lots of fun for both sender and receiver. Writing good, old-fashioned letters is also the perfect literacy activity for children—the kind they don’t even notice is educational. And this DIY book craft to make miniature origami envelopes will motivate little and not-so-little penpals alike. They also make adorable holders for invitations, thank you cards, or cards to mark a special occasion.
Looking for a creative way to decorate? From book club to birthday celebrations, you can customize this book-page banner for any holiday or theme. It’s easy to make and kids can dive right into this craft. Have them spell out their name on the banner and hang it in their room, or make one to celebrate a relative, friend, or favorite teacher. Great for a special event or to give your daily spaces a fun facelift.
This cute twist on the classic apple-for-the-teacher theme creates a decorative apple from upcycled book pages. Help kids make them as teacher appreciation gifts, or to decorate their desk at home. You could even scale down the size and turn them into ornaments that can hang along a garland or off a tree. This DIY book craft is inexpensive and fun!
Got a pile of filled-in workbooks headed for the bin? With this kid-friendly DIY book craft, you can upcycle them into a beautiful woven basket instead. Use it for decoration, or as a new place to gather office clutter. What better way to organize a student’s home workstation? Kids will be proud to see their hard work put to use to create an eco-friendly study space—ready for their next learning endeavors!