Before Daliyah Marie Arana was even born, her parents say, she was learning how to read.
While she was pregnant with Daliyah, her mother would read books to her other young children on a daily basis. When Daliyah was an infant, she would hear her older brother reading chapters of books out loud in their Gainesville, Ga., home. And by the time she was about 18 months old, she was recognizing the words in the books her mother read her.
“She wanted to take over and do the reading on her own,” her mother, Haleema Arana, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
“It kind of took off from there. The more words she learned, the more she wanted to read.”
So it was no surprise when, at 2 years and 11 months — the age that most children barely understand the concept that text carries a message — Daliyah read her first book on her own.
Now 4 years old, Daliyah has read more than 1,000 books and has managed to read certain college-level texts. And the preschooler’s skilled reading and passion for literature impressed even the leader of the nation’s library, Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress.
On Wednesday, Hayden hosted Daliyah at the Library of Congress, giving the 4-year-old a chance to shadow her as “librarian for the day.”
Wearing her glasses, pink dress and matching pink bow, Daliyah walked the sprawling hallways of the world’s largest library and sat in on executive roundtable meetings — as any high-profile librarian would do.
Hayden, who made history this year as she became the first woman and the first African American to run the nation’s library, tweeted photos of Daliyah’s visit from the library’s official account.
One showed Hayden and Daliyah walking precisely in step, both holding their hands behind their backs, with Daliyah looking up at Hayden with eyes of wonder.