One of the highlights of my day is reading aloud to my residents. And it must be a highlight for them too, because if I haven’t started moving furniture and pulled out my picture books by mid-morning, someone always wants to know “when will you read to us?”
Sofas and recliners are arranged into a large circle. All distractions—music, TV, other activities—cease for a time. Blankets cover laps. We settle in to hear fabulous tales of courageous historical figures, famous places, grand inventions, and important events that have shaped our lives. Our Book Club activity brings feelings of connection and belonging to the world, our community and each other.
Listening to well written non-fiction stories helps stimulate and build cognitive processes, including thinking, remembering, formulating/asking questions, and commenting.
Older adults with dementia love to hear about individuals like George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Cesar Chavez, Amelia Earhart, and Helen Keller to name a few.
And reading stories of unknown (or not so well remembered) people, such as Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore in “Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace” and Mary Garber in “Miss Mary Reporting” help us learn new and amazing facts. Our minds are broadened and we appreciate life experiences.
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Some of the best discussions I’ve participated in with my residents are those brought on by reading about real people and real events in the history of our world.
At this point, you might be thinking these are books for kids not adults. Please know, I would never talk down to or disrespect my residents in any way. Each book I recommend to you is written in appropriate and respectful language and tone for adults with dementia.
Every title I suggest is tried and true.
Children’s picture books are my favorite books to read aloud for several reasons:
- Simplistic, engaging storytelling
- Interesting subjects
- One story can easily be read in 10-15 minutes
- Illustrations and or photos enhance understanding of and interaction with the topic
- And, there are about a billion books to choose from!
A favorite author is David A. Adler. He has a series of picture books about famous people in the United States:
A couple other great series, by various authors/illustrators, that I read regularly include:
- Alphabet Books Series and Number Books Series
- Discover America State by State Series/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)
- Discover Canada Province by Province/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)
- Discover the World/Sleeping Bear Press (listed below)
Each book is packed with captivating information and beautiful illustrations.
Long list, but worth pursuing. My residents love these titles:
Other Titles about America
Discover Canada Province by Province Series
Discover the World Series
Reading aloud to individuals and groups, especially if they are unable to read for themselves, is very rewarding. Some of my residents have macular degeneration, glaucoma, or other eye issues that prevent them from seeing words on a page. Others are in the later stages of dementia, so have lost the ability to read.
Feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety in people with dementia can vanish when someone takes the time to read aloud.
Check my free list for more book recommendations.
Please leave comments, questions, suggestions, requests, experiences below.