This study examined the basic literacy skills and related processes of 1st- through 4th-grade children speaking English as a 1st language (L1) and English as a 2nd language (ESL). The performances of the L1 and ESL children on phonological awareness, word and pseudoword reading, and word and pseudoword spelling tasks were highly similar. The ESL children were at an advantage with regard to lexical access but performed more poorly on verbal working memory and syntactic awareness tasks. The results suggest that the main processes underlying L1 children's basic reading ability in Grades 1 and 2, namely phonological awareness and lexical access, are of equal importance for ESL children. Phonological awareness remained the strongest predictor of word reading ability for L1 and ESL children in Grades 3 and 4. However, the processes involved in L1 and ESL word reading and spelling appeared to vary at other points. Verbal working memory and syntactic awareness were found to be of importance for the word reading and spelling abilities of L1 children but not for ESL children. Lexical access was found to be of more importance for ESL children.