This paper reviews and evaluates three recent stage theories of reading acquisition (Marsh, Friedman, Welch, & Desberg; Frith; Seymour) and also discusses the relationships between phonological awareness and reading, especially the direction of causality in such relationships. Data from a longitudinal study of reading acquisition are then reported. This study included assessments of phonological skills in children before they had begun to learn to read. The results of the study suggest that (a) even if learning to read is conceptualised as a sequence of stages, not all children pass through the same sequence of stages, (b) phonological awareness and reading acquisition have a reciprocal interactive causal relationship, not a unidirectional one, and (c) phonological skills can play a role in the very first stage of learning to read among phonologically adept children. Hence, it is incorrect to claim that the first stage of learning to read always involves such non-phonological procedures as "logographic" processing.