Reading To The Cognitively Impaired

I am a regular reader of the posts from the Nerdy Book Club.  This morning’s post written by Jane Kiss touched a very deep cord in my heart.  She writes about how she reads to her mother who is impaired from the damage of a stroke.  What struck me is when she started reading childhood favorites she got the best response from her mother.

My son, Andrew, is 37 years old and for the last 11 years has been severely cognitively impaired.  Before his brain injury Andrew was a voracious reader.  While he was in a coma, which lasted several months, I knew it was important that he hear our voices.  The Hobbit was one of his all time favorites, so I reread the Hobbit to him.

After he emerged from his coma, I realized that reading books that he would have enjoyed at his present age were not evoking a response.  So one day, I dug out his childhood books.  As I read them to him, I started to be rewarded with smiles and later laughs.

I now leave a copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends by his bedside and encourage staff and visitors to take the time to read to him.  I don’t think that I ever realized how very deep the memories of those first books are buried in a child’s memories.  This realization has reinforced for me the importance of reading to your children.

Here are Jane’s words regarding this subject:

My big points? 1) What a heritage, to share over 50 years of books and reading with my mother the librarian—are you making books a heritage? 2) There’s power in those books that we return to again and again—are you allowing children to make the most of their favorites? 3) A life filled with books is still full, even if many other things go missing—are you helping others discover that truth?

I hope you find an opportunity to share your love of reading this week.


About Bernadette

I live in the small town of Haddonfield, NJ. I am at an age in my life when I seem to spend time thinking and musing about life. These musings are usually stimulated by my walks through Haddonfield, my reading of books and fellow bloggers, and my interaction with my group of fabulous family and friends.

6 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this story! I have tears in my eyes. It powerfully and simply illustrates the power of reading. I love the image of your son smiling and laughing listening to books from his childhood…such a gift. Your post touched me today! Thank you!


  2. If only everyone would understand this. It breaks my heart when kids tell me they don’t have any books or no one reads to them. The power of the books runs deep into the mind. Thanks for the reminder.


  3. Hearing a book read to you is a gift of love. I remember my parents reading books to each other. I did for all of my own children growing up, and I do it daily for my students. Thank you for this post and the reminders. I would love to get a school-wide book read aloud going with our families. This post reminds of that goal.


  4. I have a tightness in my chest from hearing the story of your son. Thanks for trusting our writing community enough with this very personal look into your life.

    There is such power in reading cherished books. You were brilliant to think about reading books from his childhood. Wow! I am amazed.



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