How to Repair a Spine on a Child's Hardcover Book

Updated on July 7, 2018
Little Red Wagon profile image

A retired librarian and a grandmother who loves to "save the world, one book at a time!"

A Child's Bible That Needs Repair:

My grand-daughter's Bible came apart. This book was not really well made. It could probably be replaced with a better book, but my grandchild loved this particular Bible. That is why I chose to repair it for her. This repair was very easy to do.
My grand-daughter's Bible came apart. This book was not really well made. It could probably be replaced with a better book, but my grandchild loved this particular Bible. That is why I chose to repair it for her. This repair was very easy to do. | Source

Mending a Well-Loved Book:

Sometimes a book gets broken when it is loved too much. My grand-daughter loved her first Bible and read it almost every day. She was less than 5 years old at the time, but she had been taught not to treat books badly. Her librarian grandmother made sure of that! But sometimes general loving wear and tear result in the need for repairs no matter how careful we are.

If you have a beloved child's book with a broken spine like this one, I hope these instructions for making this repair will help you out. I you need more information on mending books, you can visit the Dartmouth online book repair site. Scroll down to find the link.

Here are the supplies that you will need to easily mend a book's spine:

  • Scissors to trim loose paper
  • Brushes: a general purpose one 1inch wide paint brush to dust the book off and a small "pointed" one to apply glue. See the photos below to see the brushes I used.
  • PVA Glue, aka white glue, but not "school glue" (I have included some of my choices for glue further down the page.)
  • Bamboo skewers (yes, the kind you use to make shish kabobs!)
  • Thick Rubber bands
  • A small cup of clean water with a small amount of soap for washing out the brushes

Please note, I am not a professional book restoration artisan.

Good Glue for Book Repairs:

Brodart Acid-Free Bind-Art Flexible Adhesive Transparent Archival Safe Glue 4 ounces
Brodart Acid-Free Bind-Art Flexible Adhesive Transparent Archival Safe Glue 4 ounces
This is one of my favorite glues for making repairs to damaged books. This adhesive is sold by Brodart, a company that I discovered when I was a librarian. What I like best about this glue is that you can thin it with water--small amounts, please. I like to use inexpensive watercolor paint brushes to apply the glue.

How to Do the Repairs--Step One:


Trim loose paper if necessary. Be gentle and careful.

Step Two:


Dust the spine and areas to be repaired with a brush. I used an inexpensive 1 inch paint brush from a big box hardware store. It would not hurt the book if you applied a little glue to the textblock on top of the brown paper that you see on this book. Let that glue dry before you proceed to finish the repair.

Step 3: Applying the Glue with an inexpensive watercolor brush to Repair the Spine:


Applying glue where the spine will be touching the book (joint). You do not need to apply the glue to the cardboard spine cover.

Another photo showing how to apply the glue:


Apply glue to the corner of the textblock, too. Remember to clean the brush with warm water and soap if you want to use the brush again.

Step 4: Bracing the Book to Let the Glue Dry (here is where one uses the bamboo skewers):


Gently rub the spine where the glue was applied.

Put a bamboo skewer in the joint channel and hold it in place with rubber bands. Leave the book alone for at least half a day.

Another excellent adhesive to repair books:

Elmer's E461 Craftbond Tacky Glue 8Oz, 8 oz, Multicolor
Elmer's E461 Craftbond Tacky Glue 8Oz, 8 oz, Multicolor
This is an excellent choice for repairing broken books. Elmer's is a trusted name in the adhesive business. My bottle has lasted a very long time--perhaps years!

© 2012 Mickie’s Little Red Wagon

If you have any questions about this kind of book repair, please feel free to ask. I will try to be prompt.

Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    2 years ago

    You were 100% correct in saying that the book was not very well made. Unfortunate, like most products we get nowadays, practically all products today are not very well made. It is all about the money and no pride goes into the making of products. As a professional bookbinder who hand makes all of his products, your instructions and repair here very good. Of course this is really a temporary repair that will not hold up for a long time, it is a good fix for the situation you were in at the time. Congratulations on your repair work.

  • profile image


    3 years ago

    This is really helpful, thanks! You should also update your link to the recommended glue, because that one has a 1-2 month shipping time.


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