This volume of New Directions for Child Development is about literacy as a social process. For many years, reading and writing were defined in terms of the structure and correctness of the texts. More recently, educators have begun to appreciate the cognitive processes involved in comprehending and composing text. This volume extends beyond these understandings to explore how reading and writing develop in the course of children's social lives as they interact with parents, teachers, and peers. The contributors examine written language as a mode of social discourse and human development rather than as a distinct cognitive skill. This perspective offers insights about how children draw on social and affective resources to support cognitively challenging aspects of written language. For example, children who explain, explore, argue, and play with language and ideas- whether with parents, teachers, or peers- are more likely to grow as writers and readers than children who do not us language in these ways. The research reported here suggests that literacy must be integrated into children's lives because social and affective interactions support conceptual aspects of academic skills like reading and writing. This shift in perspective involves redefining what it means to become literate and what counts as basic skills. This is the 61st issue of New Directions for Child Development. For more information on this series, see the Journals and Periodicals page.