TEACH A CHILD WHAT EACH LETTER STANDS FOR AND HE CAN READ.--FLESCH (1955, PP. 2-3) It has been more than 50 years since Rudolf Flesch's book Why Johnny Can't Read (1955) was a bestseller. Flesch argued that schools were not teaching children to read, and he railed against the whole-word method, which he saw as being dominant in schools. Given his experience of teaching a child to read, he advocated the use of phonics. Since then, some of the same arguments for using phonics are repeated in the press, and disagreements about teaching reading have been characterized as the phonics wars. This article does not attempt to argue for or against the teaching of phonics, but it does try to present the dispute in relation to many aspects of the teaching of reading that go far beyond children's decoding ability. It attempts to do so through a look at some of the theories and practices advocated in the last 50 years. Before addressing phonics, however, we need to examine the concept of emergent literacy.