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A Collection of Origami Books I Love and Recommend

The following is a partial list of books in my personal library, accompanied with a description. I also included some books that I don’t own, but I am familiar with.

The list is divided into seven categories:

  1. For beginning paper folders (3 books)
  2. For beginning to intermediate paper folders (11 books)
  3. For those who like modular and geometric Origami (6 books)
  4. For  teachers or parents (4 books)
  5. For those who like action and playful origami (4 books)
  6. For intermediate to advanced paper folders and origami design enthusiasts (6 books)
  7. Other publications related to origami (1 book an 1 video)

Scroll down and choose those books that best suit your skill level, interest, and ambition.

If you would like to mention an origami book you like, please write as a comment its title and why you like it. 

A Special Note For Origami Beginners: Most origami books include a chapter explaining basic folds, conventions and symbols. Be sure to read and understand this chapter. All the information in this particular chapter is usually referenced as the origami models are explained and diagrammed later in any given book.

1. For Beginning Paper Folders

Absolute Beginners Origami (Nick Robinson)
Nick Robinson is an excellent origami teacher. This book includes step by step photos as well as origami diagrams.
All the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Great section on materials and kind of papers.
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Origami Zoo: 25 Fun Paper Animal Creations! (Paul Jackson)
I love Paul Jackson’s talent for inventing simple and delightful models!
Origami Zoo contains twenty-five origami animal designs. Children will love creating such critters as koalas, monkeys, butterflies, vultures, and more.

Origami Zoo comes with 60 sheets of origami paper. Color photos and helpful illustrations make the instructions easy to follow.

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My First Origami Kit: 20 Kid-Tested Sticker Fun Projects (Joel Stern)
What I love about this Kit: The step-by-step instructions combine photographs and standard origami symbols to make them very easy to follow. Twenty origami models are included in a small-size book that is easy to carry in your pocket or purse. There is an assortment of models, some traditional and some of the author’s creation. Some of the models are toys, but most are animals. My First Origami Kit can be used as a lovely way to introduce children to the animal kingdom, and the concepts of reptiles, mammals, birds and insects, as all these categories are represented in this book.

A particular model I’d like to highlight is a Teddy Bear that “talks” when you open and close its arms. It also folds flat and can be attached to a greeting card. My First Origami Kit includes special origami paper and stickers for creature’s eyes and noses.

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2. For Beginning to Intermediate Paper Folders

World’s Best Origami (Nick Robinson) A comprehensive overview of origami basics and a treasure trove of origami models for anyone from beginner to seasoned expert. Traditional and classic models are featured along with elegantly ingenious models created by contemporary origami artists from around the world. I Love this book!

Read a full review and see picture of models here.
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Complete Origami  (Eric Keneway)
Step-by-Step instructions forover 100 projects.
Filled with fun facts about origami techniques and history, traditional and contemporary origami models are organized alphabetically by name.

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Origami Omnibus (Kunihiko Kasahara)
A classic from a Japanese origami master. This was my first origami book purchased in 1988 (I bought the previous edition) and is one that I still often consult. One of the first models I folded from this book was the llama on page 144. Back then, in my Spanish language class, I gave origami llamas to my students and did a speaking activity called “¿Cómo se llama tu llama?” (What is the name of your llama?)

With more than 250 projects of many different types and levels of difficulty, this encyclopedic work contains traditional and modern paper-folding methods, and includes folds for the beginner and works calculated to challenge the experts (Don’t despair if at first you don’t succeed. Put the book aside and try again in an hour or too!).

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Origami Kit for Dummies (Nick Robinson)
If you are put off by the name of this series (Dummies!!), know that Nick Robinson is an excellent author and teacher.
This book includes information-packed chapters for beginners, a number of easy folds and many for more experienced folders. Models covered are both traditional and contemporary and created by various origami designers.

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Minigami (Gay Merrill Gross)
Any book authored by Gay Merrill Gross is a treat. A seasoned origami teacher, Gay has a sharp eye for models that are easy to make and have an elegant and clean folding sequence. This book is a good example of her talent. Instructions are very clear and the book  is packed with ideas on how to use the models for greeting cards and decorations.

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Origami Butterflies (Michael LaFosse)
A nice little kit explaining the basis of folding and designing origami butterflies. Good bargain for it’s generous wealth of information.

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Crease and Fold (Sok Song)
Sok’s Song first origami instructional book presents a collection of models that will appeal to a broad interest range. featuring simple and elegant animals, functional objects, money folds, and modular pieces.

Read a full review and see picture of models here.

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Origami for Busy People (Marcia Joy Miller)
This is a treat for origami enthusiasts. The diagrams are clear and use all the international standard origami symbols and conventions. There is a variety of ingenious models presented including flat models suitable for making greeting cards, action models to play with, one-piece models, and several modular models.

Read a full review and see picture of models here

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Teach Yourself Origami(John Montrol)

John Montrol is a prolific origami designer, mentor, and inspiration for many origami enthusiasts of all ages.

In this book, John introduces nearly 50 figures that range from simple to complex. These include a cup, hat, and fish for beginners; pheasant, robin, and octahedron for intermediate folders; a deer, elephant, and waterwheel for the more advanced, and many other imaginative figures..
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Trash Origami (Michael LaFosse)

As implied by its title, this book emphasizes that any found paper has potential as raw material for origami and includes many suggestions for finding paper to work with from our immediate surroundings.

The book presents clearly developed diagrams for twenty five origami models, many of LaFosses’ own designs, and designs by other origami artists. This selection includes modular ornaments and utilitarian models such as boxes, envelopes, action toys, and dishes. I especially liked the Flapping Bird and the Sailboat envelopes.

As a bonus the book includes an excellent DVD on which Michael explains and demonstrates each model. The DVD was particularly helpful to me as I folded the Origami Masu, the most challenging model in the book!

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A Thousand Cranes: Origami Projects for Peace and Happiness (Florence Temko)
For the experienced origami enthusiast the material this book covers will be familiar. Even so it is worth having if only for the lovely paper included.

As a gift item this book would be the perfect origami ambassador for those new to the fascinating world of paper folding.

Put it on your Christmas and birthdays lists! Read a full review.

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3. For Those Who Like Modular and Geometric Origami

Modular origami, as opposed to single-sheet origami,  is a paperfolding technique which uses multiple sheets of paper to create a geometric structure. This technique has been used to create boxes, rings and wreaths and polyhedrons.

Fabulous Origami Boxes (Tomoko Fuse)
Tomoko Fuse is the Japanese first lady of modular origami.

Her charming boxes are clean and elegant and her instructions clear and easy to follow. Highly recommended!

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Origami Rings and Wreaths (Tomoko Fuse)
In this book, Tomoko Fuse provides instructions for 28 different projects including jewelry (brooches and earrings) and decorative pieces like wall hangings. Tomoko shows us how the choice of paper and color can produce a wide variety of items. Using red and green papers, for example, the crafter can make festive wreaths perfect for holiday use. Written instructions are straightforward and easy enough even for beginning folders.

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Unit Polyhedron Origami (Tomoko Fuse)
A master origami artist and author, Tomoko Fuse, offers an innovative approach to origami based on assembling separate, multi-dimensional shapes into one structure. Some of the shapes are simple to master, even for a beginner. Others are quite complex and represent a challenge. Fuse rates each project according to level of difficulty with one, two, or three stars, indicating the level of challenge that should be expected.

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Marvelous Modular Origami (Meenakshi Mukerji)
Meenakshi is a gifted award-winning designer of modular origami models. Marvelous Modular Origami, her first book, provides step-by-step instructions for making over 30 different modular origami structures. The author describes basic folding techniques required to construct the modules that are used as building blocks for making the ornamental models.

Diagrams are clear, and easy to follow. Color photographs included. Additional tips encourage the reader to design their own original creations.
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 Origami Inspirations (Meenakshi Mukerji)
Meenakshi Mukerji is an oustanding master at turning a flat pieces of paper into complex three-dimensional shapes.
This book offers a set of 30 modular creations. As with her other books diagrams are clear and easy to follow.

Color photographs included.

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Origami Tessellations: Awe-Inspiring Geometric Designs (Eric Gjerde)

Unlike modular structures, origami tessellations are made made from a single sheet of paper. They are geometric designs of repeating patterns of folded pleats and twists.

Eric Gjerde has been systematically exploring the design of tessellations in origami for some time. In this excellent and fascinating book, Eric describes basic techniques that include the creasing of square and triangular grids, making pleat intersections, and to make various “twists”. He also discusses different types of paper. With the demonstration of 25 different tessellations, the readers will be launched on their way to creating their own tessellation masterpieces.

This book is the definitive introduction, guide, and must-have reference for anyone interested in tesselations.

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4. For Teachers or Parents

Math in Motion: Origami in the Classroom K-8 (Barbara Pearl)
If If you are a teacher or a parent, this book will help you and your children discover special methods for developing math skills by exploring abstract concepts from number sense to geometry.  It also includes projects that integrate language arts, literature, art, social studies, and science.

Some of the educational benefits of using origami in the classroom include the developing of listening and social skills, the improvement of concentration, memory and retention, and the increasing of self esteem. This book, a classic since 1990, will contribute to the enhancement of all these beneficial skills!
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Picture-Perfect Origami (Nick Robinson)

I don’t own this particular book  but can highly recommend it if only for Nick’s excellent reputation as a teacher and one who is dedicated to finding innovative ways to communicate and teach the art of paper folding.

“The book starts by explaining the standard origami symbols and folding sequences in step-by-step photographs, so you can see exactly what you should be doing. The second chapter contains a selection of simple designs, carefully selected and arranged so that you can practice your new skills. As well as featuring the standard diagrams, each model is shown in step-by-step photos, so you can see each folding stage in action. There is also a continuous sequence of photographs running along the bottom of the page that shows exactly what the model should look like at the end of each step–perfect for novice folders.”

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Polyhedron Origami for Beginners (Miyuki Kawamura)

Miyuki Kawamura is another shining light in the world of modular origami.

This book is a comprehensive collection of polyhedron origami from tetrahedron to icosahedron. Each solid object is formed from simple folded units and each process is illustrated with clear, step-by-step diagrams for beginners. A valuable resource addition to the classroom origami library.

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Ornamental Origami (Meenakshi Mukerji)

“The target audience for this book includes artists, mathematicians, and students over twelve.The book’s strengths: (1) explaining the symbols and terminology and (2) applying mathematics to the planar models. (3) The diagrams in the book help users follow along. … I recommend this book for math teachers who want to collaborate with art teachers.”
“Another interesting aspect of the book is the afterward: a small collection of mathematical exercises related to folding paper. The problems were thought-provoking and again bridged the gap between math and origami.”
“It should definitely find a place in school teaching or mathematics clubs.”

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5. For Those Who Like Action and Playful Origami

Origami Toys (Paul Jackson)
In this delightful book Paul Jackson offers twenty nine  elegantly simple toys that he has either invented, or modified.

I’m particularly fond of the swimming fish and would recommend buying the book for that model alone!. Simple to make, the swimming fish is sure to delight young and old and make you the star of the day as you give them away for the enjoyment of others.

Other favorite models from this book are the barking dogs, the moving lips, and the horse and rider.Highly recommended!

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Origami to Astonish and Amuse (Jeremy Shafer)
Jeremy Shafer offers a book full of entertaining, original  and clever models, many of which are meant to move and to be played with. His creations are unexpected, free, light-hearted and humorous.

In the introduction Jeremy describes his inspiring  approach to origami design and shares his tips and thought on how to begin creating origami models. Diagrams are clear and there is an introduction to folding techniques and symbols.

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Origami Ooh La La! Action Origami for Performance and Play (Jeremy Shafer )
In keeping with the entertaining mood of his first book, Jeremy Shafer offers another great collection of models that invite us to nurture a playful spirit.

“Filled with clear step-by-step instructions for how to fold each model and clever routines for performing them in front of audiences, this book aims to literally move origami on to a new stage!”
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Origami in Action (Robert Lang)
This book includes thirty nine action models. In addition to presenting some traditional and classic play-ground folds  such as the “cootie catcher” and the “water bomb’”, it includes charming models by Robert Lang and contemporary designers.

There is something for everyone from those beginning with origami to those who are up to the challenge of complex models.

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6. For Intermediate to Advanced Paper Folders and Origami Design Enthusiasts

 Origami Zoo (Robert Lang)
Most models in this book are at an intermediate level and above.

The animals featured in this book are not just those found in a zoo, but include sea creatures, dogs, farm animals, birds, insects — a black widow spider!, and even a humble little mouse!

In the introduction there is a description of the types of papers to use, and four pages of discussion on origami design. Symbols and basic procedures are also explained.

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Origami Essence (Román Díaz)

From master Uruguayan origami artist Román Díaz, Origami Essence, is an excellent choice for experienced folders or those looking to improve their skills.
Besides the introduction and a section of folding symbols and maneuvers, the book is divided into four sections  with each introduced by an insightful essay. These sections are:  1- Origami Essence, 2- Inflatable and Polyhedral Origami, 3- Wet Folding and Advanced interpretation, 4- Design of the bullfrog. For all models there are clear diagrams, color photographs, a crease pattern, an indication of the size of the resulting model in relation to the original size of the paper, and a suggestion of size and kind of paper to use. Texts are in English and Spanish.

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Genuine Origami (Jun Maekawa)
This book is a treasure-trove packed with origami models created by the Japanese master Jun Maekawa. Folders will be guided through steps for making simple figures (a mouse, an elephant, Santa Claus) and more sophisticated models such as a Samurai Helmet Beetle. This book has been so well thought out that newer folders can follow the sequences and improve their skills. Maekawa aims to have “those who fold origami as a hobby spend a meaningful time to develop a better understanding about origami.”

Each model has a theme, such as “understand symbols” or “Base” and many are accompanied by some explanations about the geometry of origami. Also, suggestions on paper and paper sizes are give.

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Origami from Angelfish to Zen (Peter Engel)
I you are looking for some challenging models and thought-provoking text on creativity and origami, this is the book.

Originally published in 1989, this book is divided into three parts: (1) “Crossing the divide” which is an introduction to materials, tools symbols, techniques and a history of origami. (2) The Floating Square is an essay exploring the connections of origami with nature, painting, music and literature. (3) “The Models” includes diagrams for 24 models.
For me, the two first sections are worth the price of the book. The models are an added bonus!

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Origami Art(Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander)
In Origami Art, the authors not only present instructions for folding 15 complex origami designs but also include information on how to prepare pieces for exhibition, discuss different high quality papers, and describe advanced techniques to make, coat, and fold paper.

In the introduction Richard Alexander shares the history of OrigamiDo, the studio founded by him and Michael LaFosse. At the end of the book there is an article on Origami as an art profession and includes useful information about intellectual property, developing a market, and designing on a deadline.

In all, for beginner folders and origami admirers, this book is a vision of what origami can be. For experienced folders and those who want to pursue origami as an art, it is a must-have book.

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Origami Design Secrets(Robert Lang)
This is the improved second edition of Origami Design Secrets. The book describes the underlying concepts of origami and how to create original origami designs. It features step-by-step instructions for twenty six models, and introduces the fundamental building blocks of origami.
Each chapter of this book builds upon knowledge introduced in previous chapters with each introducing a few design principles and associated terms.

This is the essential book for those who wish to deepen seriously in every corner of the mathematical world of origami design.

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7. Other Publications Related to Origami

Here’s Looking at Euclid(Alex Bellos)
This book on mathematics features a section on origami in which the author examines the achievements of select origami practitioners including Friedrich Fröbel, Robert Lang, Jeannie Mosley and Kazuo Haga. Not being a mathematician I was fascinated as concepts such as the “Menger sponge” and the “theorem of Haga” were unwrapped by the author in precise yet uncomplicated language.

Valuable as the section on origami is, the book has much to offer otherwise.  Read a full review…
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An EXTRA VIDEO: Between the Folds (director,  Vanessa Gould)

TThis is a marvelous, must-see documentary featuring artists, mathematicians, and scientists who are currently taking the art of origami to unprecedented levels while developing practical applications for it in education, medicine, and physics.

This film is an engaging and inspirational overview for enthusiasts, and for those unfamiliar with paper folding the film clearly shows the dynamic range of possibility within this art and discipline that is origami.

I keep this video is in  birthdays and Christmas list of presents to give to family and friends!!

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Todd Sovey February 18, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Do you have the origami Tsushin magazine volume 22 for sale?

    Thanks, Todd

    toddsovey@gmail.com

    • Leyla Torres February 19, 2015, 9:16 am

      Hi Todd, I don’t have the magazine you mention. Sorry!

  • Samantha Eve April 7, 2014, 12:22 am

    Hello, Leyla! I have Excellent book called “Everything Origami” by Matthew Gardiner. This book is very good, and has 7 books in one! From Traditional cranes and fish, to prehistoric triceratops! A very good book, and what I recommend in that book is the Walking Crab, in the toys section. You should buy it!

  • Dan April 21, 2013, 12:02 pm

    A great list of books, of which I have most! Another one I would recommend for advanced folders is ‘Spiral – Origami Art Design’ by Tomoko Fuse, an absolutely beautiful and well printed book, full of models which will blow your mind and are so elegant once done. She also describes the process of how she designs the models so you can tweak it and change the angles etc. so you can have the model you really want.

    It is expensive but a stunning book! :)

    • Leyla Torres April 21, 2013, 12:23 pm

      Thank you Dan! I actually bought ‘Spiral – Origami Art Design’ by Tomoko Fuse after I made this list… so now thanks to you we can mention it here… Stunning book!

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