One of the most important tasks, if not the most important task, of the earlyyears’ teacher is to teach children to read and write. Once children are able to read fluently, accurately and independently they have access to a whole universe of ideas that can take them far beyond the confines of the classroom. Once they can write they are able to make concrete their thoughts and so refine and reflect upon them. To be literate is an essential attribute in our society as we enter the twenty-first century. It may be that technology will develop in such a way as to make literacy obsolete, but it is difficult to imagine this happening from our present standpoint: reading is such an efficient means of accessing information and ideas. The skilled reader can take in far more information in a shorter space of time through the eyes than through the ears. The listener is coupled to the speaker but the reader can play fast and loose with the writer; dodging backwards and forwards, re-reading some sections and skipping others. Being able to read and write are essential skills for engagement in a technologically advanced democracy. This highlights just how important the early-years’ teacher is. It is her job-and overwhelmingly that teacher is a woman-to ensure that children are taught to read fluently in the first years.