The poor reading achievement of African-American children in urban schools is well established. African-American children from low-income homes may be at particular risk for reading difficulties, although middle-income children often fare poorly as well. Intervention efforts have focused on children in kindergarten through fifth grade. This article suggests that prevention efforts must begin prior to kindergarten entry. Several key variables that may influence young children's performance, including poverty, general oral language skills, dialectal variations, home literacy practices, standardized testing bias, and teacher expectations, are explored. Future directions for research addressing emergent literacy in African-American children are discussed throughout.