Lucinda, all three of you are right in a way. The verb say means to tell, to show, to indicate:
Q: What does your watch say?In that context, read and say appear to be synonyms, but they aren't really.
A: It reads 12:05 a.m., and it also says/tells us it's 12:05 a.m.
- The sign/speech bubble reads refers to the words.
- The sign/speech bubble says refers to meaning.
Here's another example, a stop sign reads STOP, which is similar but not the same as what it says or tells us: to stop. Consider also this, a sign in a school zone depicting two children walking doesn't have any words but it says or tells us that we need to slow down.
In short, the verbs read and say look like synonyms, which is why speakers often use them so, but they really aren't the same. They express different meanings.