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One of the Best Activities for People Living with Dementia ~ Book Club

Last updated on June 3, 2021

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 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. We gather together 7 days a week.

Listening to well written non-fiction stories helps stimulate and build cognitive processes, including thinking, remembering, formulating/asking questions, and commenting.  Older adults living 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 a variety of 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. We stretch our minds and voice our opinions and feelings about topics. 

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 a tone for adults living 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 the understanding of and interaction with the topic
  • And, there are about a billion amazing 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:











Abraham Lincoln Jesse Owens
Alexander Hamilton John and Abigail Adams
Amelia Earhart John F. Kennedy
Anne Frank John Hancock
Benjamin Franklin Louis and Clark
Cesar Chavez Louis Braille
Christopher Columbus Martin Luther King, Jr.
Daniel Boone Patrick Henry
Davy Crocket Paul Revere
Dolley and James Madison Robert E. Lee
Dwight David Eisenhower Rosa Parks
Eleanor Roosevelt Sacagawea
Florence Nightingale Sam Houston
Frederick Douglass Samuel Adams
George Washington Simon Bolivar
George Washington Carver Sitting Bull
Harriet Beecher Stowe Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman Thomas Alva Edison
Harry Houdini Thomas Jefferson
Helen Keller Thurgood Marshall
Jackie Robinson

A couple other great series, by various authors/illustrators, that I read regularly include:

  • Alphabet Books Series and Number Books Series/Sleeping Bear Press 
  • 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.

This is a long list, but then there are 50 states and worth pursuing. My residents love these titles:

Alabama                       Nebraska

Alaska                           Nevada

Arizona                         New Hampshire

Arkansas                      New Jersey

California                     New Mexico

Colorado                      New York

Connecticut                 North Carolina

Delaware                     North Dakota

Florida                         Ohio

Georgia                        Oklahoma

Hawaii                         Oregon

Idaho                           Pennsylvania

Illinois                         Rhode Island

Indiana                        South Carolina

Iowa                             South Dakota

Kansas                         Tennessee

Kentucky                     Texas

Louisiana                     Utah

Maine                           Vermont

Maryland                     Virginia

Massachusetts            Washington

Michigan                      Washington DC

Minnesota                    West Virginia

Mississippi                   Wisconsin

Missouri                        Wyoming



Other Titles about America

D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet

W is for Welcome: A Celebration fo America’s Diversity

M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet

S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes: A National Lakeshore Alphabet

B is for Beacon: A Great Lakes Lighthouse Alphabet

F is for Fenway: America’s Oldest Major League Ballpark

P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet

B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet

D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet

S is for Smithsonian: America’s Museum Alphabet


Discover Canada Province by Province Series

C is for Canada

M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet

L is for Land of Living Skies: A Saskatchewan Alphabet

T is for Territories: A Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Alphabet

P is for Puffin: A Newfoundland and Labrador Alphabet

B is for Bluenose: A Nova Scotia Alphabet

S is for Spirit Bear: A British Columbia Alphabet

G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet

F is for Fiddlehead: A New Brunswick Alphabet

F is for French: A Quebec Alphabet

I is for Island: A Prince Edward Island Alphabet

C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet

A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet

M is for Mountie: A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Alphabet


Discover the World Series

A is for America

S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet

E is for Eiffel Tower: A France Alphabet

C is for Ciao: An Italy Alphabet

G is for Gladiator: An Ancient Rome Alphabet

B is for Big Ben: An England Alphabet

P is for Passport: A World Alphabet

P is for Pinata: A Mexico Alphabet

D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Countries Alphabet

T is for Taj Mahal: An India Alphabet

D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet

B is for Bagpipes: A Scotland Alphabet

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet

K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet

D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet

Take Away

Reading aloud to individuals and groups, especially if they are unable to read for themselves, is very important not only to the person living with dementia but also to the reader. 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. When someone else reads, listeners can relax, reminisce, smile, laugh, feel happy.













Feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety in people living with dementia can vanish when someone takes the time to read aloud. So, grab a book or two and invite someone to join you!

Check here for my free list more book recommendations.

Please leave comments, questions, suggestions, requests, experiences below.

Happy Reading!



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  1. NinaNina

    I have no experience with people with dementia, but I found it very interesting to read this article and your experience with reading to people with dementia. Given that I also love to read, I am thrilled that the reading and book club is a great activity that encourages so many different positive results that you have listed in this article. It was also interesting to found out what content they like.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this article, I think it can benefit many people who work with people with dementia.
    I wish you all the best

    • TamaraTamara

      Hi Nina,

      Thank you for your comments. One motivation for creating a website about dementia is to help people who have little or no experience with dementia get a positive introduction. Individuals living with dementia love to continue enjoying many of the same activities/hobbies they once could do on their own. Reading aloud is so rewarding. I am an avid reader. When I consider how I’d feel if my eyes and or brain no longer let me delve into a story, I want to cry. But just read more books and more often to my residents! 😀


  2. PaoloPaolo

    Thank you for picking for us these books. Yes, I will definitely check them out. And I like that they have illustrations that are not childish. They are intended for seniors (and even we can have a peek and enjoy our time). I plan to start buying a couple of titles, and if I see good results, purchase some more.

    • TamaraTamara

      Hi Paolo,

      Thanks for commenting on my post about dementia book club. There are so many awesome books that are appropriate for older adults living with dementia. And I always enjoy the stories and illustrations/photos, too. Reading opens up the world to people of all ages. 

      Happy reading, 


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