One of the most critical opportunities to begin rethinking, rebuilding, and rebalancing our beginning reading practice may be in providing more robust and intentional phonemic awareness instruction. Volumes of compelling research point to the fact that phonemic awareness instruction—teaching children to notice, articulate, and manipulate the smallest sounds in words—can pay huge dividends in getting readers off to a stronger start with both reading and writing. This chapter focuses on some common misunderstandings about phonemic awareness and the reasons we may want to rethink them. Phonemic awareness and phonics are reciprocal skill sets that can and should be woven together in complementary ways. The most basic distinction between phonics and phonemic awareness is the inclusion or exclusion of letters. Phonemic awareness, in its purest sense, involves only spoken sounds, without letters attached. The chapter describes some other characteristics of phonemic awareness tasks that can make them more difficult for children.