I thought I’d let you know about some of the stories and poems I’ve read recently in my weekly read aloud groups for people who have dementia and memory loss. With Christmas fast approaching, you won’t be surprised that there’s been a seasonal flavour to our choice of literature. Whether or not you’re living with memory loss or have anyone to read aloud to, there might be something here for you to enjoy, especially at this time of year.
Two stories that got us all thinking, talking, and laughing were taken from the brilliant anthology A Little, Aloud, edited by Angela Macmillan. The selection of stories and poems within this book always gives us much food for thought and sometimes group members request to hear a particular story or poem again, they’ve loved it so much. This book is such a helpful resource to me and the volunteers who are now starting to facilitate some of the shared reading groups organised by The Reader Organisation in Wiltshire libraries.
The two Christmas-themed stories (although the Thomas is more of a prose poem) were The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and an extract from A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. The O. Henry story provoked discussion about the cost of things vs. the value of things. We were taken with the lines
“Eight dollars a week or a million a year – what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer.”
No surprise that we all loved reading Dylan Thomas aloud, rolling the musical language on our tongues and laughing out loud at his images of our snow-filled past.
It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory is as white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats.
This is a great story to start everyone talking about their memories of snow. The winter of 1962/1963 was evoked more than once. And people remembered playing on the streets, roaming with their friends, deep in an imaginary world…
..Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road….
And here are some of the poems we’ve read recently:
December by John Clare. This poem reminded us of the pleasures of being in a warm, secure home when it’s bitterly cold outside.
Minstrels by William Wordsworth. We loved the image of the rowdy carol-makers singing from house to house:
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
Winter-Time by Robert Louis Stevenson reminded us of short December days, the prettiness of a snow-covered landscape “frosted like a wedding cake” but, also, the bite of wintery weather
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
its frosty pepper up my nose.
Somewhat darker, we also read Innocents Song by Charles Causley which, among other things, got us talking about the dangers and risks of welcoming people into our homes or lives. And, lastly, we enjoyed reading I am Joseph, by U.A. Fanthorpe, which, religious or not, made us think about the very human story of Mary and Joseph:
I am Joseph, carpenter,
Of David’s kingly line,
I wanted an heir; discovered
My wife’s son wasn’t mine.
We might have read more than this but it’s all I can remember at the moment! Do let me know if you’ve enjoyed reading anything here or if you have Christmas favourites of your own.