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Keywords:

  • reading;
  • learning to read;
  • dyslexia;
  • reading comprehension impairment;
  • language impairment

Abstract

This paper outlines the nature and characteristics of children's reading disorders and considers current ideas about the definitions of dyslexia and reading comprehension impairment. We argue that reading skills show continuous variations within the population, making the diagnostic “cut-offs” used in the identification of reading disorders essentially arbitrary. We argue that there is a considerable overlap between children's reading and language disorders and discuss methods for the early identification of children's reading disorders. We argue that interventions for reading disorders need to be evidence based, and review the evidence for the effectiveness of current approaches to intervention. We conclude by considering the extent to which learning to read in different languages may depend on some universal cognitive principles, as well as processes that may differ between alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems.