Reading is a skill, and a difficult one at that. An extended apprenticeship is required in order to master it fully. We will consider the processes of skill acquisition – that is, how we learn to read – in Chapters 7 and 8, but there is a lot to be said for studying the end result first. That way you have a clear idea of where the apprentice is heading when he or she starts the learning process. This and the next chapter are concerned with aspects of skilled reading. This chapter summarises some of the research which analyses how a skilled reader converts written words into meanings and speech. Chapter 3 shows how psychologists have developed theories and models of visual word recognition that encompass and explain the research findings.