Finding reading resources for people with dementia

While dementia often results in problems with memory, this does not mean that a person’s imagination is negatively affected. This page contains links to resources that may be useful to find reading resources for people living with dementia. Dementia can be an opportunity to expand the usual definition of ‘reading’ to include not simply word-based materials, but also resources that we can ‘read’ in other ways and with other senses, such as images and objects; movements and gestures; or sounds and music that people with dementia may be able to make connections with.

Please note that access to certain resources listed may be limited by location (e.g. restricted to access within the UK).

You can use the links here to find resources tailored to the needs of an individual with dementia. However you may also be interested in generic resource packs available to purchase.

Films

BFI Player - a video on demand service from the British Film Institute streaming a large number of archive films. Films range in length from a couple of minutes to full length films and include newsreels, adverts, films produced by cultural institutions and amateur filmmakers.  


BBC Reminiscence Archive (RemArc) - a selection of content designed to support reminiscence from the BBC Archives. You can access resources via theme (sport, events etc.) or decade (1930s, 1940s etc.) and choose image, audio or video content. Most clips are short, many under a minute in length, and can be 'favourited' to return to later.


British Council Film Archive - over 100 short British Council films made in the 1940s. 

Flash fiction (very short stories, typically around 1,000 words)

Free Flash Fiction - Flash fiction by new and established authors.

Every Day Fiction - Over 4,000 stories which you can search or filter by theme, place, character etc.

100 Word Story - Extremely short stories, usually written in response to a photo prompt.

Idioms & dialect

Survey of English Dialects - a nationwide survey of the vernacular speech of England, undertaken from 1950 to 1961, mostly in rural locations. You can search for recordings by county or by date.

BBC Reminiscence Archive (RemArc) - a selection of content designed to support reminiscence from the BBC Archives. You can access resources via theme (sport, events etc.) or decade (1930s, 1940s etc.) and choose audio or video content. Most clips are short, many under a minute in length, and can be 'favourited' to return to later.

Yorkshire Dialect Verse - poetry written in Yorkshire dialect, many have audio recordings available.

London Sound Survey - over 2,000 recordings of everyday life in London between 2008 and 2020, plus some historical sound recordings.  Recordings include markets traders, auctioneers, newspaper sellers, street preachers etc.

May un Mar Lady - Potteries dialect cartoon.

Proverbs/similes card games/conversation activities - imaginative games/activities for people with dementia and their friends, family and carers.

Images

Natural History Museum - a wide range of natural history images, including historic maps, meteorites, plants, animals, insects, fossils and geological specimens.

Smithsonian Open Access - access to more than 4.4 million 2D and 3D digital items from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, research centres, libraries, archives, and National Zoo. 

V&A Images - images from the V&A's art, design and performance collection.

The Cartoon Museum - items from the  UK Cartoon Museum's collection.

BBC Reminiscence Archive (RemArc) - a selection of content designed to support reminiscence from the BBC Archives. You can access resources via theme (sport, events etc.) or decade (1930s, 1940s etc.) and choose image, audio or video content.  Items can be 'favourited' to return to later.

Wellcome Collection -  photos, illustrations, paintings etc from the Wellcome Collection of health and human experience.

Historic England - historic and more recent photos of locations and buildings in England.

The Art Institute of Chicago - access to thousands of artworks from the museum's collection.

Poetry

Poetry Foundation -  one of the largest online archives for English language poetry. Browse poems by topic, region or tag.

Poem Hunter - a database of over 2 million poems by both well-known (what the site calls 'classical') and amateur poets. The range of poets included means the quality is varied and it can take a while to sift through.

National Poetry Library (UK) - search for poems on a range of topics and by format (text, image, audio, video).

Poets.org - Academy of American Poets' database of over 10,000 poems (it also includes non-US poets). One of the easiest sites to search or to filter by theme. Some poems also have audio versions.

Scripts

BBC Script Library - includes scripts of radio and TV comedy and drama shows.

The Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb)  - database of film scripts, searchable or option to filter by genre.

TV Writing - scripts from more recent US and UK TV shows.

Songs & lyrics

BBC Music Memories - a simple website which allows you to build a playlist, with selections for decades, countries, languages and composers. There are also theme tunes and a social music section that includes pub songs, football songs and religious music. You can hear extracts on the site and playlists can be exported to Spotify to listen in full. There is also a memory radio section with clips from BBC radio by decade and region of the UK.

BBC Reminiscence Archive (RemArc) - a selection of content designed to support reminiscence from the BBC Archives. You can access resources via theme (sport, events etc.) or decade (1930s, 1940s etc.) and choose image, audio or video content. Most clips are short, many under a minute in length, and can be 'favourited' to return to later.

Lyrics on Demand  - US-focused  site, but a wide range of song lyrics, plus TV themes and film soundtracks.

London Sound Survey - over 2,000 recordings of everyday life in London between 2008 and 2020, plus some historical sound recordings.  Recordings include pub songs, buskers etc.