Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Make Accordion Books

As many of you parents know there is some great artwork in children's books. It can be very inspiring to your little ones.

So it is no surprise that kids are often quite eager to create their own stories with accompanying illustrations.

A traditional book style can be a bit many many pictures to create. I find using an accordion style much easier.

An added advantage is that your child can see the progression of the story in one view.

Please feel free to click on the photos for a closer view.

Here is a book I created with my own kids. We were talking about winter coming and what changes that brings about. Living close to the Canadian Rockies, this led to talking about Bears and hibernation. It resulted in this book.

Accordion books are very easy to make. The hardest part is usually finding a piece of paper long enough to fold into the book. I used to try and piece it together but now I use a roll of Kraft paper or packaging paper. It's easy to find at the dollar store or Post office and you can roll out however long a piece you want.

Materials Required:

kraft of packaging paper (even a large paperbag opened up and cut to get the longest piece you can from it)

thin cardboard (like from a cereal box)
needle and thread

Measure your paper to get the size of book you want. Cut a long strip for the accordion folds, decide how many pages you want and divide the total length by that number. This will tell you where to place your folds. Measure with the ruler and place a mark where each page fold should be.
Make all your folds.

To make this more like a book we will give it a front and back cover. Place your folded paper on the thin cardboard and trace out the size you need. You will need 2 pieces.

Cut these out.

Pick one of the cardboard pieces to be the front cover. Sew two buttons near the edge on one side. I used a big needle to push thru the cardboard. You want your buttons near the center of the edge.

You will need to make a shank on both these buttons. After you have made a few passes with the needle and thread poke your needle up thru the cardboard but not the button, have it come out on the side .

Wrap the thread around the stitches you have sewn and then back thru the cardboard.

This causes the button to rise up a little from the cardboard so we can wrap our string around it in the finished book.

Knot off and repeat with second button.

In these photos I had glued the cover on too soon. I then had to figure out how to conceal my knots. If you do the sewing first you can hide your knots.

We are now going to attach our front cover. Put some glue all over the thin cardboard on the printed side. I used tacky glue. I found a glue stick was just not strong enough for the book.

Take your folded accordion paper and place in front of you like a closed book with the first page opening on the right. Place the glued cardboard directly on top of this page. You want the buttons to be on the right side. Align your edges as best you can. You can always trim the cover after the glue dries. Your knots from your stitching should sandwiched between the cardboard and paper

Take your book and turn it over. Open the first page ( which is actually the last page of the book). Set aside.

Before gluing on the cardboard take a 12 inch piece of string. Make a loop and knot it. This will be the string that holds the book closed.

Put your glue on the second piece of thin cardboard. In the picture I did it the opposite way with the glue on the paper, glue on the cardboard seems to work better.
Sandwich your string loop between the paper and the cardboard. You are gluing the cardboard to the inside of that first page on the left side. If you opened up your accordion book fully, the cardboard would be on the backside of the first page and on the backside of the last.

In the Bear book I glued my back cover on the wrong side, that is why the string is sticking out between the last 2 pages. It's a little awkward like that so put it on the other side.

You should now have a book with a front and back cover that you can close by winding the string around the buttons.

Now you can create your story. Figure out what you want to say and what pictures you want to go with it.

You can open it up fully in front of you to paint, color and illustrate.

You can add some extra embellishments if you want. Here we made a little 3D mini book for the bear.

These make wonderful keepsakes and presents for the grandparents.




  1. ¡Pero qué preciosidades fabricas! Gracias por compartir. Tus ideas me gustan y me ispiran. Un gran abrazo desde España.

  2. You seem to be a real craftsman and always ready to do something creative with anything you find. IS it?

  3. fantastic turorial - thank you. :)

  4. Thanks for the detailed and clear instructions, Gail! I love accordian books, and I like the idea of using kraft paper (I've only ever used white drawing paper). You're quite right about the books being both excellent projects and keepsakes.

  5. The book turned out lovely. I think my kids would enjoy making these. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. These are marvelous! My kids always loved making their own books too :)

  7. thanks for sharing your ideas. I did accordian books with K-7 last year and they loved it.

  8. can you use ribbon instead of the thread

  9. Excellent post,Gail..Loved d idea of using a paper bag..i've loads of those lying arnd..& can put them 2 good use.Thnx fr discussing d smaller details too..wil let u know how it comes out :)