Make Reading Fun with a Custom Library Bag

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Looking for ways to make reading more enticing to your kids? Sometimes the best way to get children excited about something is to come at it from a fresh angle—or even be a little sneaky.

This project is a perfect example. Getting kids involved in making a special bag for library trips is a great way to draw in those who would rather be painting than reading. Not only will they enjoy decorating the bag, they’ll also be excited to use it!

There are many options for jazzing up a basic tote bag. The simplest approach is to arm your children with some fabric markers, or fabric paint and brushes, and tell them to get decorating.

Another technique involves using freezer paper to create stencils, but if you want to spell out words and don’t have a fancy cutting machine, this can require lots of tedious cutting with a craft knife—not very kid-friendly.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the adhesive stencils now available in craft stores. They’re so handy and easy; you just stick, press, blot, and you’re done! They’re the perfect tool for kids of all ages because they really are foolproof.

For this project, you’ll need:

  • 1 canvas tote bag (we found ours on Amazon for $5)
  • scrap cardboard
  • a set of adhesive letter stencils
  • a few bottles of fabric paint in your child’s favorite colors
  • sponge applicators

A couple of tips before you and the kids begin to adorn your bags:

1) It’s a good idea to practice on an old T-shirt so everyone can get a feel for how much paint to use with the stencils.

2) Be sure to slide a piece of cardboard inside your bag to catch any paint that might bleed through.

To decorate your bags, start by lining up your stencil letters. My son and I liked the graffiti effect of blotting paint both inside the letter area as well as outside the stencil square, but you can just stick to the letters if you prefer a cleaner look.

Once you get the first word done, move on to the next.

These sponge applicators made it simple for my 4-year-old to take over from here.

Five minutes later we had a bag fit for our resident “BOOK LOVER IN TRAINING.” And, judging by his little sister’s immediate interest, we’ll clearly be making a bag for her, too.

Check the directions on the paint bottle to see if the paint needs to be set with heat (an iron) or can just air-dry. Then, all that’s left is to start planning your next journey to the library.

Photo Credits: Stephanie Morgan

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