ABSTRACT. What are the cognitive and neurobiological building blocks necessary for children to acquire literacy, a skill that is crucial for academic and life achievement? In this review we discuss the behavioral and neurobiological evidence concerning the bases of reading development and impairment. The means by which reading achievement may be influenced by the background and experiences that a child brings to the classroom are discussed. Finally, we review a series of experimental studies that have examined the cognitive and neurobiological response prior to and following reading intervention in struggling readers. The importance of appropriate control groups is stressed, as well as the ultimate goal of designing reading interventions that target individual needs.