Bringing back the joy of reading to people living with dementia


Staff Member
Staff member
Sep 26, 2022
Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator programme invests in innovations to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

One of our Accelerator partners, Cognitive Books was created after the founder’s (Matt Singleton) dad (Brian) lost his love of reading shortly after his dementia diagnosis. Matt started creating books for Brian that they’d both enjoy, and Brian loved them! When Matt took the books to more people with dementia thanks to the support of Alzheimer’s Society, it turns out that stopping reading is a problem for many in a similar situation to Brian, but the books have been enjoyed by a great number of them.

A cartoon figure leaning against the drawing that forms Looking back at... The Beatles. He has a red thought bubble with the words Brilliant for people with dementia - Alzheimer's Society. The has a drawing of four band members in brightly coloured uniforms, each holding an instrument and standing behind a drum set with the words Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band on the surface. In the corner, it features the Alzheimer's Society logo and the words In collaboration with Alzheimer's Society. In the top right corner there is an image of an open book and a pair of headphones with the words Free audio version included - read by Bill Nighy.

The books are unique because they solve the barriers many people with dementia face when it comes to reading. They have been co-created with people living with dementia, their supporters and dementia professionals.

They use familiar stories, add rhyme and rhythm and vibrant illustrations to help recall and bring memories to life. Pages work as individual stories, as well as collectively. There are simplified sections for those finding reading particularly tricky these days.
Free audio versions are included (read by Bill Nighy for looking back at… The Beatles), larger print / specialist design techniques are used and they’re hardback books, which help with some of the physical / sensory issues. What’s more a donation to Alzheimer’s Society is made with every copy sold.

The facts:

  • Our research shows that the key barriers to reading when living with dementia are cognitive (eg following the thread of a story), physical (eg eyesight issues) and other (eg being able to enjoy a book with someone else).

  • Approximately two-thirds of people living with dementia read less or not at all after their diagnosis.

  • For those who have stopped reading, the books could make reading accessible again.

  • Book topics are recommended by people living with dementia, their loved ones or dementia professionals – The Beatles proved to be very popular!

  • Focus groups involving people living with dementia have endorsed the books’ approach

  • As one Swindon focus group member said: “It takes me back, I can relate to it … can I take it home?!”

  • 92% of people would buy a suitable book, based on the Cognitive Books approach

  • Some of the improvements have been suggested specifically by people living with dementia (eg hardback, simplified couplets)

  • 5% or more of Cognitive Books’ revenue will be donated to Alzheimer’s Society

  • 89% of people say they value a donation

  • 86% of people say they’d like an audio version included –looking back at… The Beatles audio is read by actor Bill Nighy!

  • 71% prefer a hardback book

Does this sound like something you or your loved one or someone living with dementia may enjoy?

You can buy the book "Looking back at The Beatles" (including the audio download read by Bill Nighy) here:

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
It looks good to me.

I like the quiz. So many people with dementia have long term memory and it would give them pleasure to be able to remember something, when they have so many lapses.


Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
I think this looks really good. I think some members of our dementia choir would like this so I’ll bring it to their attention.

I love Bill Nighy and I think he’d have a lovely voice for this.


Volunteer Moderator
Oct 28, 2019
I think that this is one of the best of the accelerator programmes that I have seen so far. It has great potential.


Registered User
Apr 10, 2023
My dad LOVES the Beatles-I bought this book for him and we read it together on our visits. He remembers every word to every Beatles song, even though he can’t remember my name! We sing the songs together all the time, it makes him so happy. Fantastic book!