Learning to read is the fundamental skill necessary for accessing the rest of the curriculum. Children and adults who experience diffi culties with reading are disadvantaged in many areas of life. The vast amount of research and academic literature on reading is testament to its importance and it is right that so much effort and energy should be invested in this area. Debates about the best ways to teach children to read proliferate. In the UK the government’s backing for a method of synthetic phonics teaching has caused some controversy. The teaching of reading seems particularly prone to new initiatives and some of these are driven more by political and historical factors than by hard evidence. It can be diffi cult therefore to see the purpose of metacognition in reading. Surely the main purpose is to ensure that children learn to read quickly and process the phonemes into words easily and effi ciently. Metacognition can appear to be a distraction from learning the skill of word processing but reading involves much more than just being able to decode the symbols and turn letters into words with meaning. It is here that metacognition has had the most impact on teaching children to read.