AYER -- A group of excited readers entered Ayer's Page Hilltop School with books under their arms on the morning of Nov. 30. But this group was a little older than one might expect at an elementary school.

Thirty adult community members came into the school to share their appreciation for literature on Community Reading Day. Reader Michele Granger, an Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee member, said Community Reading Day is one of her favorite times at the school.

"Reading is such an essential part of our children's lives, and it is so important for our students to see all members of their community -- younger and older -- enjoying books. That's what this day is all about."

On this Friday morning, the readers assembled in the school's cultural arts room to enjoy some breakfast treats before being escorted to the classrooms that they would be reading in. Page Hilltop Principal and Community Reading Day organizer Fred Deppe greeted the guests and thanked them for taking time out of their days to participate. "Sharing our love of literacy is one of the best things we can do for our children," he said.

Community Reading Day is not unique to Page Hilltop. It was an initiative started in the 1990s by the Worcester Alliance for Education, but when the WAE disbanded, Ayer decided to continue the tradition. This year, Deppe coordinated with teachers to pick some fun and classic books to be shared with the 600-plus students.

Retired and beloved kindergarten teacher Kathy Daly read Susan Lowell's "Dusty Locks and the Three Bears" to Mrs. Wilson's first-grade class. "I love coming back to Page Hilltop for Community Reading Day. I really love to read and want to help all children love to read as well."

Ayer-Shirley Regional High School Librarian Peggy Twiss read "Library Lil" to Ms. Kimball's fourth-grade class before breaking out one of her all time favorite reads: "Encyclopedia Brown."

"I love helping students solve the mysteries in Donald Sobol's book series!"

Deppe was very happy with the day. "It is wonderful to see so many volunteers taking time out of their day to come and read to the children. Every year we really appreciate it."

This year's readers came from many places. They included current and retired Page Hilltop staff members, the Ayer-Shirley superintendent, Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee members, police officers, the Ayer postmaster, the Ayer Parks Department director, lawyers, an Ayer selectman, Ayer business owners, and a state representative.