The Reading Wounderchild
Before Daliyah Marie Arana was born, her parents say, she was learning how to read.
While Haleema Aranashe was pregnant with Daliyah, she used to read books to her other young children daily. As a small kid, Daliyah often heard how her older brother read chapters of books out loud at their home in Gainesville, Georgia. By the time she was about 18 months old, she began to recognize words from the books her mother read to her. She soon decided to take over and do the reading on her own.
More Than 1,000 Books
Daliyah has read more than 1,000 books and has also managed to read a few college-level readings. The high passion for literature even impressed 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.”Glasses, a pink dress and matching pink bow, Daliyah walked the hallways of the world’s largest library and sat in on the roundtable meetings as any high-profile librarian would do.
A Day In The Library Of Congress
Hayden is 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. It showes Hayden and Daliyah walking , both holding their hands behind their backs, with Daliyah looking up at Hayden with eyes of wonder.
“She just kept saying how the Library of Congress is her most favorite library in the whole wide world,” Haleema Arana said.
Through the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, Haleema Arana got the idea to start counting the number of books Daliyah read. She was about 3 years old at the time, and had likely already read about 1,000 books with the help of her mother. In the year or so since, Daliyah has met the program’s 1,000-book goal, and aims to reach 1,500 by the time she enters kindergarten next fall, when she hopes to “help the teacher teach the other kids how to read,” her mother said.
Her parents have never tested her reading level, but Daliyah is capable of reading books that her 10- and 12-year-old siblings bring home from school on her own, seeking help only when she gets stuck on a big word, her mother Haleema Arana said.
To give her a challenge her mom gave her a college level text, a speech called “The Pleasure of Books” by William L Phelps. Daliyah learned to read the speech so well, pronouncing words such as “punctiliousness” and phrases like “annihilates formality,” that her mother posted a video of her reading it on YouTube.
“And there is no doubt that in these books you see these men at their best,” the 4 year old reads. “They wrote for you. They ‘laid themselves out,’ they did their ultimate best to entertain you, to make a favorable impression. You are necessary to them as an audience is to an actor; only instead of seeing them masked, you look into their innermost heart of hearts.”
Her mother hoped that by posting the video, she could encourage other parents to teach their children how to read at a young age, she said.
Daliyah’s vocabulary and reading comprehension has perhaps also benefited from her bilingual home her father, Miguel Arana, is Mexican, and often speaks to Daliyah in Spanish. Although the 4-year-old cannot yet speak the language fluently, she can understand many words and hopes to work toward learning how to read in Spanish as well. Who knows maybe she will also read a 1,000 books in spanish.