Celebrate Book Week: Make Paper Bag Lanterns

Storybook Lanterns. Books Light Up Our World, Book Week 2015

Books Light Up Our World.

Isn’t the Book Week theme for 2015 a fantastic one?

What’s wonderful about this theme is its potential for numerous interpretations, but each interpretation leads back to the point that books have a huge impact on people.

I’ve created a divine craft activity that interprets ‘light’ both literally and figuratively as having an impact on individuals; Making paper bag lanterns that feature illustrations from our favourite picture books, or from picture books that have had an impact on us ( I just wish the photos in this post did justice to how beautiful these lanterns are in real life.)

These book-themed paper bag lanterns are quite simple to make, creating the perfect project for the classroom or home during Book Week.  They can be made independently by children in middle and upper primary levels, but adult assistance is needed for children in pre-school and lower primary.

What you need for a book-themed paper bag lantern:

paper bag lantern supplies_instructions at My Little Bookcase

  • A paper bag (paper bags in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes are all suitable)
  • A photocopy of a favourite picture book illustration or character (please don’t go cutting your favourite books!)
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape
  • A battery-operated LED tea light.

Note: You are breaching copyright if you copy illustrations for purposes other than for personal use.

How to make a book-themed paper bag lantern:

Choose a paper bag large enough to fit your chosen illustration.

Trim your illustration so that it can be slipped inside the paper bag.

Trim picture book illustration for paper bag lantern_ instructions at My Little Bookcase

Draw and cut a window from the front side of the paper bag. Ensure this window is slightly smaller than the illustration (Younger children will need help from an adult  to begin cutting the window).

Cut Paper Bag Lantern Window_ Visit My Little Bookcase for instructions

Place the illustration cut-out into the paper bag with the illustration facing out. Position it over the window you have cut from the paper bag and secure it in place with washi tape (the beauty of washi tape is that the illustration can be easily adjusted if you don’t position it correctly at first).

secure illustration to paper bag lantern_instructions at My Little Bookcase

Place a battery-operated tea light inside the paper bag (It is important to use a battery operated candle because paper bags are obviously highly flammable and it is not safe for children to play or use naked flames).

Book-themed Paper Bag Lanterns_ Instructions at My Little Bookcase

These are two paper bag lanterns Cammy made on her own, featuring two of her favourite book characters… one old and the other very new. Billie B Brown, the kindergartner was made with limited help, and Brave Squish Rabbit (whose actual book cover glows in the dark) was made by Cammy independently.

Turn off the lights. Watch and enjoy your favourite illustration or picture book character light up your world.

Storybook paper bag lanterns. My Little Bookcase

Squish Rabbit paper bag lantern. My Little Bookcase

We made paper bag lanterns featuring our favourite, classic picture book characters.

classic character paper bag lanterns_ Visit My Little Bookcase for instructions

The Green Sheep paper bag lantern. My Little Bookcase

We made paper bag lanterns featuring 2015 CBCA shortlisted books that we love (Scary Night and The Cleo Stories).

Paper bag lanterns featuring CBCA shortlisted titles 2015. Visit My Little Bookcase for details.

Paper bag lanterns featuring CBCA shortlisted titles. More details on My Little Bookcase

We made paper bag lanterns using illustrations we thought would light up perfectly.

Mr Qwerty paper bag lantern. My Little Bookcase celebrates Book Week 2015

Trio of book-themed paper bag lanterns. My Little Bookcase celebrates Book Week 2015,

…and then we couldn’t stop.

They keep the kids company while reading their favourite books.

The Very Cranky Bear Lantern. My Little Bookcase

They light up our fireplace when we don’t have kindling for a fire.

Paper bag lanterns by the fireplace. My Little Bookcase celebrates Book Week 2015

Storybook lanterns. Details at My Little Bookcase

For more ideas, try:

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About Jackie Small of My Little Bookcase

Celebrate Book Week: Make Paper Bag Lanterns


  1. I love this idea! So gorgeous!

  2. What a great idea!! Lovely.

  3. These are so beautiful. What a wonderful idea. I can see your kids just loved making them. Sharing!

  4. These are absolutely fantastic! Such a brilliant idea that I can not wait to try. You come up with some of the most amazing ideas.

  5. Wow these are just so beautiful, and what a creative idea. Would be so lovely to decorate for a night time story reading event!

  6. WOW! I’ve not seen this idea and i LOVE IT! So creative and beautiful Jackie. I really will hope to give this a go soon. Thanks for sharing.

  7. these are beautiful! I cannot wait to make these. Unbelievable how simple they are to make and how pretty they turn out!

  8. These are gorgeous. Off to find some LED tea lights! Thanks for the amazing inspiration x

  9. This is such a wonderful little project. I have oodles of paper shopping bags that I’ve saved for kids craft, can’t wait to use them for this with my daycare children. LOVE it! Thank you

  10. What a lovely idea – thank you! Does anyone know where I can purchase battery operated tea lights, I’ve never seen them!

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Celebrate Book Week: Make Paper Bag Lanterns

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