This study took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and examined the impact of explicit instruction and fluency practice of letter/sound combinations on reading Amharic letters and words. First grade students at risk for reading difficulties were assigned via stratified random assignment to treatment or control condition. Students in the treatment group received explicit instruction and fluency practice on grade one Amharic letters, two times a week for 18 weeks for 36 sessions. Students in the control condition received typical Amharic reading instruction. Results indicate that students in the treatment condition significantly outperformed students in control on letter sound identification and word reading fluency.