Do it yourself

Ever wanted to make a small children’s book for friends or family, but didn’t have any idea how? Sure, you can take the book-binding class offered at Carnegie Mellon, but for those who are looking for something a little less official, here’s how you can make your own children’s books.

Select the desired page size of the book. Then, get sheets of paper that have a width that is twice the size of the desired page width: For example, for a book in which each page is six inches wide and nine inches tall, the paper chosen would need to be 12 inches wide by nine inches tall. Print the content on each side of each sheet of paper. If the paper is held in a landscape fashion, there should be text/pictures on the left side of a sheet and then different text/pictures on the right side of the sheet. The same configuration should be on the back side of the sheet. Remember to be careful of the page order.

The easiest way to print the text/pictures would be to first figure out how many pages there are going to be. Then, if using Microsoft Word, set the page to Landscape, and then in the Format menu, choose Columns, and select Two. If page one is going to be on the left side when the book is opened, then on your first page, the left column should be your page one, while the right column should be the last page. On the second page, the left column should be page two and the right column should be the second to last page. However, if page one is going to be on the right side when the book is opened, then on your first page, the right side of the page should be your page one, while the left side is the last page of the book. Continue this pattern until the center two pages meet.

Next, fold all the pages in half so that the left and right sides meet. Place each sandwiched sheet into the one before it so that all the pages together form a little booklet. Using embroidery thread and a heavy needle, carefully stitch down the center crease of the booklet, knotting the book on the outside face of the seam.

To make the cover, you need three pieces of cardboard. The cardboard can be cut from recycled boxes or bought new. Two pieces should be slightly larger in height and width than the pages of the book itself. The last piece should be the same height as the other two pieces of cardboard, but should be about a quarter of an inch wide. Then take a sheet of paper the same size as the paper you used for your book pages and place the center of it over the thin strip of cardboard. Next, carefully stitch the booklet’s center seam to the thin strip of cardboard, right through the paper placed over the strip.

Print the cover design for the book onto a large sheet of paper in the same fashion as the booklet pages; if you place the cover sheet onto a table, with the design side down on the surface, the front cover design should be on your left and the back cover design should be on your right. Lay the two large pieces of cardboard centered on the blank, face-up portion of the cover sheet. Put the thin strip of cardboard in between the two larger pieces, and place all pieces flush together. The cover sheet should have about one inch of excess all around the centered cardboard configuration. Fold the one-inch excess of the cover sheet over and around the edges of the cardboard, taking care to properly fold the corners. Lastly, glue the edges of the sheet sewn between the thin strip of cardboard and the book pages down on top of the folded-over cover sheet. Wipe off any excess glue, and clamp the book for about an hour. To clamp the book, you can do something as simple as laying it on a flat surface and putting a physics textbook on top of it.

The next time you need to give your niece, baby brother, or even best friend a present, give the gift of a homemade book. It’s a great way to make something fun, original, and creative. And remember, gifts are always a little more special when they’re homemade.