Covering Books

classroom library

My classroom library is my pride and joy. It is like a third child to me, and I take great pains to protect it. Many student hands come in daily contact with the book collection and have the potential to destroy one of my cherished books. One defense I use to protect my library is to wrap each book in clear contact paper. This is a labor of love for sure but well worth it. If you have invested both time and money in a quality classroom library, wrapping your books will extend their lifespan.

covering books materials


  • Con-Tact Brand Shelf Adhesive Shelf Liner clear with matte finish and gridlines (I usually purchase at WalMart or Staples)
  • paperback books
  • sharp scissors
  • clear, flat surface like a large tabletop with a straight edge


  • For standard sized paperback books, measure 2 books of about the same size at the same time. Unroll a little of the contact paper with the gridlines facing down and the roll unwrapping to the left. Set two books, cover facing up, on the contact paper. The books act as a weight to hold the contact paper still as well as guidelines for measuring the size of the cover needed for the book.

covering books step 1

  • Carefully take the fattest book and roll it over the contact paper to the left, so the cover will be face down. This measures the length of contact paper you will need for both books. Cut the contact paper about 1 inch beyond the edge of the fatter book. Use the gridlines to help cut straight lines.

covering books step 2

  • Keeping the books spaced on the contact paper, cut down the center of the two books making sure there is (roughly) even amounts of contact paper above and below the edges of each book.

covering books step 3

  • Cut sheets of contact paper for all books that need to be covered at one time to make the process more efficient. Keep each book with its matching piece of contact paper.

covering books contact paper prep

  • Take one piece of contact paper and put it on a flat, clear surface with the gridlines down. Set the book that goes with that piece of contact paper on top. The paper rolls up a little, and the book helps keep the contact paper spread out. Using your fingernail, gently peel away the paper backing starting at the top or bottom corner. I like to start with the top right corner, and I am right-handed. If you do not pull the backing away evenly, the paper will crease leaving a line that looks like a scratch (which drives me crazy). As you pull the backing away, lift the paper up off the table letting the book fall off.

covering books step 4

covering books step 4a

  • Once the backing is off the contact paper exposing the sticky side, place the paper sticky side up on your flat surface landscape direction. Have the bottom edge of the contact paper line up with the bottom, straight edge of the table. This will help keep book placement on the contact paper straight and even.
  • Gently set the back cover of your book near the right edge of the contact paper. Try to leave about a 1-inch border on the top, bottom, and right side of the book. In other words, center the top and bottom of the book on the contact paper and have the book close to the right edge of the contact paper.

covering books step 5

  • Pick up the book from the right side and smooth the back of the book with your free hand. Begin to wrap and push the contact paper around the spine of the book. Turn the book over and carefully press the contact paper across the cover pushing from the spine towards the loose end of the pages.

covering books step 6

covering books step 7

  • Smooth out any bubbles between the book and contact paper by pushing gently with your fingers and/or heel of your hand to the closest edge.

covering books step 7a

  • With your scissors, cut diagonally along the top 2 outside corners and the bottom 2 outside corners. You will snip off triangles.

covering books step 8b

  • Make diagonal snips on the front and back corners near the spine.

covering books step 8

  • Press the sticky tab of contact paper on the top of the spine to your pointer finger and pull it back and down until it separates just a little below the spine of the book. Snip the tab of contact paper off the book. Repeat at the other edge of the spine.

covering books step 9a

  • You will now have 3 flaps hanging over the edge of the front cover of the book and 3 flaps on the back. Carefully wrap the flaps around the cover of the book and stick them down to the inside of the covers, pressing carefully to avoid wrinkles.

covering books step 10

covering books step 10a


  • Your first few books will probably have wrinkles and mis-aligned contact paper. You get better (and faster) at covering the more you practice!
  • There are a variety of clear “shelf” papers available. The Con-Tact brand is my favorite, and the easiest for me to use.
  • If you have a large library, I would not recommend going back to cover every book. I would begin covering any new books that you add to your collection and any damaged books that you have.
  • To cover a damaged book (hardback or paperback), repair with clear packing tape first, then wrap in contact paper.

classroom library 3

 I would love to hear some other suggestions to help care for a classroom library. What steps do you take to keep the books in good condition and accounted for? 

Originally posted on The Lesson Deli blog.

4 thoughts on “Covering Books

  1. Hi, after you cover a paperback book with contact paper, can I remove it if it has too many bubbles in it? What happens if I try to peel it off?

    • You can peel it back, but if you have fully covered the book, it might take a little of the top layer of the cover with it. Have you tried pushing the bubbles to the edge with your fingertips? You can usually move the bubbles out to the edges. I have peeled small sections back and then pressed the contact paper down smoothly.

      • Thank you for your reply. Yes, I’ve tried to push the bubbles with my fingers, but you see, I covered this paperback book when the cover wasn’t completely flat and was kind of curled, so as time passed and the cover was flattened out, bubbles began to appear. I didn’t think it through and should’ve flattened it first so it wouldn’t end up morphing like this. :/

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