The XX Factor

This 4-Year-Old Honorary Librarian May Already Have Read More Books Than You

The news out of Washington, D.C. is dominated by dispiriting dispatches from the confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees and Trump’s dystopian announcement that he has no plans to neutralize his many conflicts of interest once he ascends to the highest office in the land. But one small beacon of hope shone out of the nation’s capital on Wednesday, as 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana served as “Librarian for the Day” for the Library of Congress.

A resident of Gainesville, Georgia, Arana has made local headlines by allegedly reading 1,000 books before beginning preschool. “I read 1,000 books by the time I was 3 years old and I hope to read 100,000,” she told an Atlanta local news station. Arana’s parents signed her up for a Georgia Public Library literacy program called 1,000 Books B4 Kindergarten when she was 2½, and she completed the challenge in October. The program operates on the honor system—parents are invited to keep a log of all the books that are read by or to their children—but are you really going to question the exact number of titles read by a young girl who is both precocious and adorable? Even if Arana hasn’t read 1,000 books, her reading abilities are clearly advanced, as evidenced by a video in which she reads a speech about books by William Lyon Phelps:

“Books are of the people, by the people, for the people,” she croons. “Literature is the most immortal part of history.” Is it any wonder she was invited to Washington by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden?

In photos from Arana’s visit to the nation’s library, the tiny honorary librarian walks through the lobby with her hands folded behind her back, sporting a fetching pink peplumed dress with a matching hair bow. Color-coordinated hair bows seem to be a trademark of the young bookworm, but she is not content to rest on her laurels as a style icon, as easy as that would be. Her parents told the Gainesville Times that she wants to be a librarian “as soon as possible,” and they hope that her story will inspire other children to sign up for library cards. Arana corroborated her parents’ story: “I like to check out books every day,” she told the Gainesville Times. “And I want to teach other kids to read at an early age, too.”

It’s unlikely that very many preschoolers will read about Arana in newspaper articles or tweets from the Librarian of Congress’ Twitter account. But as an adult who has now learned about Arana from those mediums, I feel newly inspired to go read a book, so by one measure her literacy campaign is already a success.