She’s only 4 years old, but Daliyah Marie Arana already knows what she wants to be when she grows up.
She already has a love of books and a huge head start over children her own age. The preschooler from Gainesville, Georgia, has read more than 4,000 books, and a YouTube video of Daliyah reading a college-level speech called “The Pleasure of Books” by William Lyon Phelps, has gone viral.
Wednesday, she went to Washington, D.C., as a guest of Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress. Hayden gave Daliyah a chance to shadow her as "librarian for the day," at the Library of Congress, the Washington Post reported.
"She just kept saying how the Library of Congress is her most favorite, favorite, favorite library in the whole wide world," Daliyah’s mother, Haleema Arana, told the Post.
Daliyah already has her library card at the Hall County Public Library in Gainesville. She began reading on her own when she was 2½ years old. Through the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, Haleema Arana got the idea to start counting the number of books Daliyah read, the Post reported. She was about 3 years old and had likely already read about 1,000 books with the help of her mother.
Since then, Daliyah has met the program’s 1,000-book goal and aims to reach 1,500 by the time she enters kindergarten next fall.
Her parents were reading to Daliyah even before she was born, her parents said. Daily, Haleema Arana read books to her other young children. By the time she was 18 months old, Daliyah was recognizing the words in the books her mother read her.
"She wanted to take over and do the reading on her own," Haleema Arana told the Post. "It kind of took off from there. The more words she learned, the more she wanted to read."
Daliyah said her favorite writer is Mo Willems — author of the "Pigeon" and "Elephant and Piggie" series — and she has a special interest in dinosaurs.
"She’s able to just absorb so much and retain so much so fast," Haleema Arana told the Post.
Daliyah’s vocabulary may have benefited from her bilingual home — her father, Miguel Arana, is Mexican, and often speaks to her in Spanish. Although Daliyah cannot speak Spanish fluently, she understands many words.
As she toured the children’s section of the library Wednesday, Daliyah read books to Hayden and met other members of the library staff. When they asked for recommendations, Daliyah suggested they install whiteboards in the library hallways so that children like her can practice writing on them.
"They said they would try to make that happen," Haleema Arana told the Post.
It was fun to have 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, GA as "Librarian For The Day." She's already read more than a 1,000 books. pic.twitter.com/MQfwlUrakO— Carla Hayden (@LibnOfCongress) January 11, 2017