Laurette Klier Creates Nana’s Books: Nostalgic Picture Books for Seniors


Sit With Me At Sundown - Laurette KlierBy Laurette Klier

Confounded by the lack of quality reading materials at my mother-in-law’s long-term care facility, I scoured the internet for something stimulating and enjoyable to share with her on visits.  It had become increasingly difficult to engage ‘Nana’ who was living with Lewy Body dementia. Her once candid personality had veered into negativity, as traumatic childhood images seemed to occupy her mind. It was heartbreaking to watch her experiencing sundowning, when the shadows grew long and she became sadder, quieter, and harder to engage. Joy seemed hard to come by.

A lifelong reader of the Boston Globe and an avid bridge player, word searches and coloring books fell flat with Nana. She understandably balked at the re-purposed children’s books and board books when she was moved upstairs to memory care. She felt they were ‘baby books’ and the ‘dementia friendly’ labeling took from her already shaky sense of self.  Surely, there had to be something better.

Determined to find something to bring in a little joy, and to spark a conversation, I decided to try my hand at creating books of my own.  I was a teacher and my area of expertise was designing literacy environments to entice the reluctant new reader and to captivate the imagination and spirit, through story.  I wanted to bring her happiness and beauty that would take her beyond the walls of a locked unit.  My vision was a book that gathered bits and pieces of her past, artfully assembled, like a sailor’s valentine, with references to youth and age and the passages of life.  I decided to incorporate magnificent large-format art to echo the classic texts I had chosen, and to tweak the formatting to enable Nana to feel successful, given the limitations of her changing brain.  In a burst of inspiration, I completed Sit with Me at Sundown, Nostalgic Poetry for the Young at Heart (Life’s Journeys) in a few weeks and was thrilled with the book. So was Nana and the people who lived in her memory care unit. They had only experienced small (6×9) books with simple, labeled images which were reminiscent of early childhood primers and did nothing to elicit a response from seniors—just as they had not, in my experience, from children.  All people want to be a part of the textured, nuanced human story, and that is what captivates, motivates and draws people together on the journey of life.  What seniors living with dementia need, I was finding, was a worthy invitation back into the conversation, and in a way that made them feel honored, respected and in-step.

With that in mind, and with the onset of Covid-19, I scrambled to prepare books to share with Nana and others via Zoom during lockdown. I set about creating criteria for more books, as I’d found a formula that really worked. All of NANA’S BOOKS are crafted to engage and delight through:

Nostalgic images which optimize ‘time slips’, or the tendency of a person living with dementia to inhabit their pasts. Vintage photographs, fine art and illustration bring back a sense of well-being and affirm identity.

Classic literature and melodic poetry to bring about reminiscence and fond recollection through positive associations with recognizable texts. Melodic poetry, hymns and songs soothe agitation and are deeply embedded in the subconscious mind.  Poetry stimulates the same area of the brain as music and is proven to give people in neurocognitive decline a deep sense of well-being through primordial rhythms.

High Interest/Layered Scenes Nana’s Books are not merely labeled images, but richly layered vistas and interiors which represent the magnificence of nature, cityscapes, home and hearth, and are a balm to the soul in isolation.

Resonance Each book resonates with the psyche of the patient and care partner, as the text is carefully chosen to uplift and engage again and again through all stages;
independent reading for those with mild cognitive deficits and through picture walks with a carer, to read- alouds in late and final stages.

Considerate design Nana’s Books are formatted identically across the series, with 16 point or larger sans-serif fonts and abbreviated versions of classics to eliminate frustration. They are the only large format books (8.5×11”) to accommodate low vision and to facilitate sharing.

Inclusion Nana’s Books are the only books to represent and honor disproportionately impacted, underserved populations.  Nana’s Books has resonant titles for Veterans (3), the BI&POC community (2), nondenominational books of faith (4), and the LGBTQIA community (1).

Representation Nana’s Books depict a past that is meaningful to seniors, as they include images and themes of age, alongside youth, and celebrate life’s passages (birth, childhood, first love, the empty nest, twilight years, etc.) This quality makes the books uniquely satisfying, as they bridge all cultures and socio-economic strata and aid in intergenerational connection and authentic conversation.

NANA’S BOOKS are a love letter to seniors and their care partners at a most challenging time in life. NANA’S BOOKS are mission-driven to enhance lives and bring back joy, one page at a time.


Author Biography
I am a senior advocate, focused on compassionate care initiatives, currently working on the Essential Caregiver Act to ensure care partners unrestricted access to their loved ones in long term care, as Covid lockdowns and lack of uniform federal protections continue to devastate seniors and their families. With a background in creating literacy environments for students in urban and priority schools, this work came naturally to me, as I believe that people are best engaged via a holistic, literature and arts-based approach. Now, as ever, I am focused on underserved communities and inclusion.  As a Constructivist educator, I know that people are constantly ‘making meaning’ throughout the lifespan, and instinctively, we gravitate towards human-centered texts and story. This is the central theme of my books; to connect people living with dementia and their care partners through recognizable scenes of life’s journeys, featuring people of all ages in nostalgic, resonant words and images.
Covid underscored the need for these materials to aid people in conversation (both virtual and in-person) and to mitigate the negative impacts of social isolation and loneliness.
I am an Aetna Fellow and Teacher Consultant at the Connecticut/National Writing Project, hold master’s and undergraduate degrees from Boston College (Education/Human Development & Speech Communications, respectively), and I am a Certified Dementia Practitioner. My ultimate goal is to spearhead a National movement to create libraries within libraries of quality multimedia, multi-sensory  engagement materials for people living with dementia.


Images of Nana’s Books collections by Laurette Klier:

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3 Responses

    1. These books are available on Amazon. Click on the Book Cover above for the direct Amazon link. Thank you.

    2. On Amazon.
      Put Laurette Klier into the search bar and all of the available books come up.
      Thank you for your interest.
      To preview the books, go to my website:
      and look at ‘browse collection’ to see inside the books.

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