Nothing is as central to the fi eld of child development as the notion of stages. With respect to motor, cognitive, language, perceptual, and moral development, highly infl uential theories have been proposed in which children are seen as developing towards maturity by passing through a series of stages. While it might be quite easy to accept the idea of a natural sequence of stages that children pass through when beginning to walk or talk, there is no really compelling reason to expect the same to be true of learning to read. After all, reading is a product of cultural evolution rather than a biologically determined skill like walking or talking; it depends on cultural transmission for its continued existence. Rather than invariant, biologically driven sequence of stages, proposed taxonomies of stages in reading development are best viewed as convenient ways to describe how reading changes as children gain skill.