Repairing Children's Books

No matter how well-drilled your children are in proper handling of their books, accidents will happen. Be ready.

As you will see in some of my book review photos, our family library has many volumes which have seen better days. Some of these books came to us in abominable condition (e.g., our copy of The King, the Mice, and the Cheese had only a front cover, and that was detached from the book!); and some of the books, I regret to say, fell prey to curious little hands--and feet.

For a while, we repaired our books with packing tape. It was clear, wide, strong, and we had a lot of it; however, it stretched quite a bit, and that caused many of our books to acquire unusual bends and folds, and sometimes additional tears. So we were overjoyed when my parents found a couple of book repair kits one year for us.

For minor page tears

One of the book repair kits had a roll of transparent mending tape. I highly recommend this for repairing minor page tears. Actually, I have done major reconstructive surgery on one book using mending tape. Our one-year old had shredded the last two pages of one of our books. I spent a couple of hours carefully piecing the pages back together and carefully cutting the pieces of tape so that they did not overlap. I am sure that I am probably more sensitive about the final appearance of the repair job than the children will ever notice, but I am also sure that that is not the only extra effort I make for them that will go unnoticed--I believe the extra care will pay off one day.

For major book repairs

Another valuable repair tool has been a bottle of pH-neutral adhesive. I use this to reinsert loose or torn out pages of some books, and I have used it on occasion to repair a book that has had the text block torn away from the cover.

Our copy of Curious George Flies a Kite had been torn out once, and repaired with packing tape. When the packing tape started to deform, I used a hobby knife to slice away the tape from the pages; then I carefully realigned the pages in the text block and applied the adhesive with a small artist brush. Actually, even before I applied the adhesive, I secured the text block with a small pair of bulldog clamps and binder's board pieces that came in one of the book repair kits. The binder's board pieces were used to prevent the clamps from creasing the pages. Once the text block was allowed to dry for a few hours, I checked it to make sure all of the pages were secured, and then I reinserted it between the covers. I used one-inch book repair tape to secure the end pages to the covers, and glued the text block back in. To hold the book firmly while it dried, I used H-bands--H-shaped rubber bands.


Many of the book repairs I have done were inspired by The Booklover's Repair Manual by Estelle Ellis, Wilton Wiggins, and Douglas Lee. (New York:Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), part of The Booklover's Repair Kit.

I also have gained great insight from the Book Repair Kit from Barnes & Noble.

I am sure both of these resources have added significantly to the continued health of our family's children's library. They probably would to yours as well.

©Copyright 2004-2014, Mr. Merrick J. Stemen. All rights reserved.