This is the first of a two-volume publication which provides an international perspective on how children learn to read. Research studies and classroom experiences from around the world are reported, highlighting implications for the design implementation and evaluation of classroom reading programmes. Contributions and evidence is drawn from over 18 countries and, despite the national differences, there are many common concerns and controversies. From these, three areas are identified: the first is developing an improved understanding of the nature of children's early reading development; the second is the consideration of the ways in which children's reading can be encouraged; and finally issues of assessment in the context of accountability are addressed. This volume deals with the first of these concerns.