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Although Dutch can be considered a transparent orthography, a substantial number of children in the Netherlands suffer from severe reading and spelling problems. Over the past decades, research has focused on the question of how problems with learning to read and spell in Dutch can best be understood. Importantly, policymakers have recognized the results of ongoing research efforts and protocols are now being followed nationwide for the diagnosis of developmental dyslexia and conduct of interventions.
In this chapter, we start with a short introduction to the Dutch language and its orthography. We then review what is known about the processes of learning to read and spell in Dutch as evidenced by research with typical children (see also Verhoeven, 2017). Next, we sketch the historical and cultural context leading up to the identification of problems with learning to read in Dutch and the diagnosis of developmental dyslexia in the Netherlands.