Newsmaker: Daliyah Marie Arana

Four-year-old super-reader becomes “Librarian for the Day” at Library of Congress

January 17, 2017

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden welcomes 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, Georgia to be "Librarian for the Day," January 10, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden welcomes 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, Georgia to be "Librarian for the Day," January 10, 2017. Photo: Shawn Miller

Four-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana has been reading on her own since age 2. She has now read more than 1,000 books, some even at college level. So when Daliyah asked her local librarian at one of the Hall County (Ga.) library branches if she could be a librarian for a day, her mother Haleema Arana wanted to help her meet her goal.

“She had a lot of fun,” Haleema says. “She got to help check out books, and she helped the librarians with shelving. When we got back home that night, I said, ‘Why not see if I can get her in the biggest library in the world?’”

Haleema wrote to the Library of Congress, which invited Daliyah to be its first Librarian for the Day.

“Since she had such a good time, they told me today they’re probably going to make it an annual event and have one child come out once a year to spend two hours as a librarian of the day,” Haleema said.

American Libraries spoke to both Daliyah and Haleema to hear more about the experience, Daliyah’s favorite books, and her dreams for the future.

What did Daliyah’s day consist of?

Daliyah Marie Arana shadows Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Photo by Shawn Miller.
Daliyah Marie Arana shadows Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Haleema: She mostly shadowed Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. The staff took her on a special tour, so she got to visit offices that only librarians of Congress are allowed to go in. They took her to the children’s library, and she got to meet all the children’s librarians, and they got her feedback and her recommendations for what would make the children’s library more child-friendly. And she got to go in and see an executive round table meeting. I think they were having a budgeting session.

The majority of it was touring the Thomas Jefferson Building. That’s the most beautiful building, and I think the most historic. And she was given quite a few books that were autographed by the authors. I think the highlight of the entire tour was that she got to sit in and watch Dr. Hayden record a voiceover commercial. She got to watch her read her script and everything. And I think that was the most fun part of her day, other than the children’s library section.

Do you think it was inspiring and made Daliyah more excited about reading and books?

Haleema: Yes. She just wants to read even more books now. She always loved the library. I don’t necessarily think she wants to be a librarian when she grows up. She just loves the library so much. Just to have that experience. She just loves reading about dinosaurs.

Carla Hayden and her staff were some of the most beautiful people that we’ve ever met. They were very accommodating. It was just a beautiful experience. We all enjoyed it thoroughly.

What’s your favorite book?

Daliyah:  It’s called The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! [by Mo Willems]

Why is that your favorite book? Do have a favorite character?

It’s the pigeon.

What’s your favorite part about reading?

My favorite part is I get to learn new words. And I like to read about dinosaurs and paleontologists.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading the “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King, Jr.

How did you read so many books?

When I was reading when I was 2 years old, my mom was helping me. When I was 3, I read 1,000 books for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.

Reading 1,000 books is a big accomplishment. Do you have any other reading goals?

I want to help other kids learn how to read.

How did you like being the Librarian for the Day at the Library of Congress?

It was really fun. We got to see a lot of books, and we went to the gift shop.

How was it meeting Carla Hayden?

She was really nice.

How is the library in your hometown in Gainesville?

It’s really fun. And I like it a lot because they have a kid’s section and I get to get a lot of books.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a paleontologist.