There is increasing evidence of a relationship between orthographic processing skill, or the ability to form, store and access word representations, and reading ability. Empirical research to date has not, however, clarified the direction of this relationship. We examined this question in a three-year longitudinal study of children from Grades 1 to 3. We included standard measures of orthographic processing skill, at both the lexical and sublexical level, and word reading accuracy, as well as controls of vocabulary, non-verbal reasoning, and phonological awareness. In all analyses, word reading predicted progress in acquiring orthographic processing skill, regardless of grade level or orthographic processing measure. In contrast, orthographic processing skill did not predict progress in word reading. Our results suggest that, between Grades 1 and 3, children acquire orthographic processing skill through their reading and that this ability, as characterized by the most common tasks used to date, does not play an independent role in supporting reading acquisition.