Kid Idols! Daliyah Marie Arana Reads 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Our children grow up in a world where they’re expected to play, to perform, and possibly to mind their manners. And by all means….#lethembelittle. BUT….do they feel empowered? Inspired? Do they know that they can really do something great…no matter how big or little that thing might be?

Too often, the world can make you feel so small with its comments, “You’re just a kid”…"You’re too little" pushing you into irrelevance, weakness, or worse when what you really need is to know you can be great.

Our Kid Idols series offers up some truly amazing role models across all fields who inspire us with their passion, their talent, and their refusal to be “just a kid.” Share these stories with your own children and show them that they can be little and mind-blowingly awesome.

While most 4-year-old kids are starting to develop “pre-reading skills” as they toddle toward kindergarten, Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, Georgia, already has a library card – and she uses it every day, having racked up an impressive 1,000+ books read… so far.

Daliyah read her first book on her own at just over 2-1/2 years old, and has since zipped through many more, including college-level texts. Once her story got out and videos of her reading complex editions went viral via YouTube, she was invited to shadow Carla Hayden, the leader of the Library of Congress as “librarian for the day.” Hayden, who made history this year as the first woman and the first African American to run the nation’s library, tweeted photos of the baby bookworm’s visit and sparked a whole lot of inspiration around the world.

The little girl arrived to the hallowed hall wearing a pink dress with a bow, looking like your everyday, average adorable kid, but Hayden was wowed by Daliyah’s love of reading. Haleema Arana, Daliyah’s mother, said in an interview with the Post, “She kept saying how the Library of Congress is her most favorite, favorite, favorite library in the whole wide world.” Daliyah added, “I like to check out books every day at the library.”

So how did this all begin? Daliyah’s mom decided to start counting the number of books the rapacious reader was going through after hearing about a program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. By 3 years old, Daliyah had already reached that number with the help of her mom, but she’s read more than 1,000 more books in the year since, all by herself. She can comprehend at college level, but she loves all kinds of books, for all ages.

Mom Haleema reckons Daliyah was learning to read when she was in the womb. While she was pregnant with Daliyah, Haleema read books to her other children on a daily basis. When Daliyah was an infant, she heard her older brother reading chapters of books out loud, and by the time she was 18 months old, the tot recognized the words in the books her mom read to her.

Studies have shown that people who speak two languages have more efficient brains, so maybe that’s another advantage Daliyah has over other kids. Her Dad, Miguel Arana, is Mexican, and often speaks to Daliyah in Spanish.

Now she is reading the same books her pre-teen siblings are reading. Daliyah’s favorite writer is Mo Willems (author of the Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie series) and she will study anything and everything there is about dinosaurs. Haleema says her daughter talks of someday digging up dinosaurs as a paleontologist.

If anybody can pass all the tests to become the world’s youngest paleontologist, it’s Daliyah!

Know of any real-life superhero kids? Share with us!

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Elodie Nilsson
What an incredible little lady
Dona Kareno
Nikki M
WOW. I didn't know about 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. I used to read to my kids a lot when they were babies and sort of slacked off as they got older. I need to step my game up!
Kira Smirnova
This is so inspiring!