The present study compared the reading ability of first-grade and dyslexic children using an experimental paradigm known to elicit the optimal viewing position (OVP) effect in skilled readers. Word frequency and initial fixation location were manipulated in a word identification task. The results showed an OVP effect for both groups. However, word-recognition performance was lower for the dyslexic than for the first-grade group. In addition, whereas beginning readers obtained the typical inverted J-shape curve, dyslexics had a symmetric curve. These results were corroborated by a letter-report analysis showing that dyslexics failed to report word endings, even when fixating at that location. Robust effects of word frequency were also obtained for both groups. But unlike adult readers, this factor did not interact with fixation position.