As the saying goes, opening a book is like opening the door to a world of imagination.

Students at Dunaway Elementary School were shown that door by volunteers who came to read to them curing the 12th annual DEAR Day on Friday.

Hundreds of community members volunteered their time Friday by reading to students at WISD campuses.

“Events like this are important to have because technology provides so many different distractions. The world of books is kind of going by the wayside,” PTO volunteer Tricia Centracco said.

“Books provide that detailed information that allows you to visualize in your mind but, in a movie, just takes up two seconds of the film. Having an event like this today gets more kids interested in reading at an early age and gets them plugged in,” she said.

Fifty-three members of the community were at Dunaway on Friday and spread out among the different grades. Starting at 10:15 a.m., a student from each class went to the library to pick up each room’s assigned reader and lead them back to the classroom.

For some readers, it was the first year to read to students, while others have faithfully returned year after year, taking time out of their day.

Iris Johnson has read every year, starting when her grandchildren were in elementary school.

“You know it’s important to read to kids that can’t read because it helps to encourage communication,” Johnson said.

“A lot of things have changed since this program has started but the one thing that has not is the level of curiosity that a lot of these kids have when you’re reading to them,” she said. “They remain very captive.”

Another volunteer was Orville Stanton, who is in his 10th year of reading to the students. Stanton said he participates so he can share and pass on his love of reading to others.

“I think that reading is important because it opens up the windows of the imagination and allows students to become more creative. First of all, you can read about so many different things and it just allows you to create that mental picture of it in your mind,” Stanton said. “It is good to see young minds craving to learn and reading allows for that growth in a person to happen.”

Patty Hilton, who teaches pre-kindergarten and Head Start students, said reading is important to younger students in their development.

“Having different people read to them provides them with a large and varied vocabulary. Also, having others read to them exposes them to different forms of literature,” Hilton said.

“It helps to have someone else read to them because they provide a different perspective on how to tell the story,” she said. “The different ways of telling a story also provoke questions and get them thinking.”

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com