Read to Me: Poetry

Read to Me: Poetry

  • 10
  • 30
  • 60


  • Time Together
  • Bring Joy

What you need

  1. A book of popular poems or refer to our list of a well-known selection, which are a joy to read aloud. List of poems to search for on the internet if you do not have access to a poetry book – a good starting point:
  • Apple Blossom -  Louis MacNeice
  • I remember, I remember – Thomas Hood
  • The Railway Children -  Seamus Heaney
  • Love and Life – John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
  • Sonnet: How do I love thee? -  Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • A Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns
  • She walks in beauty like the night – George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron
  • What are days for? Phillip Larkin
  • Sea Fever -  John Mansfield
  • Peace -  Henry Vaughan
  • If – Rudyard Kipling
  • All the World’s a Stage – William Shakespeare
  • Macavity: The Mystery Cat - T.S Eliot
  • Ode to a Nightingale - John Keats
  • Daffodils – William Wordsworth
  • The Tyger -  William Blake
  • Jabberwocky -  Lewis Carroll
  • The Owl and the Pussycat - Edward Lear
  • Spellbound – Emily Bronte
  • The Star -  Jane Taylor
  • The Shell – James Stephens


The world is full of poems – and even the most novice poetry-reader will have read at least one or two in their lifetime. But some people just can’t get enough of them and love all sorts, including the most famous, like “My love is like a red, red rose” by Robert Burns

People progressing on their dementia journey can find reading a struggle, so it’s important to bridge the gap between their love of poetry and devouring it

This activity helps people to enjoy poetry once again, as you’re going to read their favourite poems – or ones they might like – to them. These sessions can be very therapeutic, relaxing and stimulating for the brain. And they’re especially good for people with limited mobility who spend a lot of time sat down or in bed

The Activity

  1. Prepare a selection of poems before the session
  2. Visit the person in their room or where they are seated – somewhere quiet without any distractions
  3. Greet the person by holding their hand or laying your hand gently on their hand or forearm
  4. Sit at their eye level and ask them how they are. If they can’t respond verbally, look for any visual clues, such as a change in breathing, movement of their head, hands or eyes and respond by then letting them know how you are or talk about something that is going on that day
  5. Make eye contact and say you’re going to spend some time with them reading poetry
  6. Start with a short poem first
  7. Be expressive with your voice, using different volumes, tones and pace
  8. Keep holding their hand, or maintain light touch all the time you’re reading to them
  9. Pause for a few seconds once you’ve finished to signify the end of the poem, then make some comments about it, responding to any verbal or nonverbal responses
  10. Carry on with more poems in the same way if the person seems relaxed
  11. Keep going for as long as you have time or as long as they’re happy to keep listening
  12. Once the poem is over, take some time to talk about what will happen at the next session and let them know where they are in the day (e.g. “it’s time for your tea break soon” or “lunch will be ready in a minute”