According to what educational psychologists call the “simple view of reading,” learning to read requires two sets of skills: decoding (translating “graphic shapes into linguistic form”) and linguistic comprehension (Hoover and Gough 128). The possession of these best predicts success in reading, even beyond such factors as students' gender and socioeconomic status (Kendeou, Savage, and van den Broek; Juel). For humanists who thrive on the complexity of reading, the simple view may look not just simple but crude. But it looks so only if it is supposed to account for every aspect of learning to read rather than for the skills that explain the most variance in students' performance. Understood in the latter sense, it helps teachers know where to focus their efforts in teaching reading. It provides three predictions about why students might have trouble: problems with decoding, problems with understanding, or both. In this light, the model's reductiveness is less a weakness than an achievement in clarifying preconditions for literacy.