Children in the United States who are English language learners characteristically do not exhibit the same levels of reading achievement as their peers. The article describes the development of English literacy in English language learners and the relationship between a child's second language (L2) and his or her native language (L1) in literacy development. It is organized first to consider the issue of language of instruction and language transfer, specifically the aspects of L1 literacy that appear to transfer to the second language (L2), English. It then discusses general principles for professionals working to optimize English literacy development in different models of literacy instruction for English language learners. We conclude that using the child's L1 provides the children with strong language and literacy skills in both languages.