Thursday, May 28, 2015

Repairing Pre-loved books

Whether you get books for your children from second-hand shops, op shops/thrift shops, yard sales/garage sales or as hand-me-downs, it’s worth repairing them to make reading them as pleasant as possible.

This not only encourages your child to read and enjoy the books, but also indirectly teaches him that books have value (…and also makes them last longer).
If you have old valuable collectable books, it’s better to leave repairs to the experts, but the average well-read children’s book can benefit from a bit of TLC.

Book repair kit-

My essentials to keep on hand for book repairs are:
  • a clean, good-quality eraser for pencil marks (and maybe an ink eraser for biro marks)

  • invisible tape for repairing tears in pages, bad creases and loose pages,
  • clear contact plastic/ adhesive book covering plastic for repairing covers (or for covering special books)

  • clear craft glue (the kind that comes with a nozzle and dries fast), for repairing spines or worn/separating cover corners, and toothpicks for applying (you could use white PVA glue, but it dries very slowly and is inclined to run, so is much harder to use for page repairs; it’s really only OK for repairing covers).

  • bleach solution (about 1:1 bleach/water), Q-tips/cotton buds & paper towel or tissues for light marks and water-based pen

  • correction fluid or tape (‘White-Out’) for covering indelible marker or biro that won’t rub out

  • eucalyptus oil for cleaning sticky marks (e.g. from price stickers, sticky fingers) off book covers and generally brightening up the cover (if you can’t get eucalyptus oil, you can try lighter fluid or spray cleaner but apply carefully on a cloth or paper towel and be very careful that you don’t rub off the printing or colour on the cover. If you like, you can buff up the cleaned cover with spray furniture polish for a nice-to-handle finish.

You’ll also need sharp scissors for cutting tape/contact plastic neatly, and if the spine is beyond repair you may need duct tape as a last resort – repair first as much as you can with the craft glue, then put duct tape over the spine; you can re-write the book title on with a Sharpie marker).


I don’t recommend using normal shiny sticky tape, as it perishes and yellows after a few years; I’ve found that the more opaque ‘invisible’ tape blends in better to the pages and lasts much better. For repairing shiny covers, you can cut clear contact plastic/ adhesive book covering plastic into strips if the invisible tape is too matte. I always keep off-cuts when covering books, to use for repairs when needed.

I put my bleach solution into an old eye-dropper bottle – very clearly labelled – but you can mix up a little in a throw-away bottle top and use a Q-tip/cotton bud to apply. Apply carefully to marks so that you don’t wet the page too much, and blot off quickly.

Caution: Make sure you keep your repair kit in a safe place, well out of reach of children, as the craft glue, bleach and eucalyptus oil/lighter fluid are all toxic (not to mention not wanting to get sharp scissors or liquid paper into little hands…)!

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