Word and pseudoword reading are related abilities that are fundamental to reading development in alphabetic orthographies. They are respectively assumed to index children’s orthographic representations of words as acquired through the underlying ‘self-teaching mechanism’ of alphabetic pseudoword decoding. However, little is known about the concurrent growth trajectories of these skills in the early grades among children learning different alphabetic orthographies. In the present study, between- and within-group latent growth models of word and pseudoword reading efficiency were tested on data spanning first and second grade, from learners of the inconsistent English, and consistent Czech and Slovak orthographies. Several language-general patterns emerged. First, as expected, significant growth was observed for both skills in all languages. Second, growth was faster for word than pseudoword reading efficiency, and accordingly, strong lexicality effects that increased over time were obtained across languages. Language-specific patterns were also found. In line with predictions about the costs to learning of lower consistency orthographies, readers of English experienced relatively slower growth on both reading skills. However, their lag was smaller, and evident only at the latter two time points for word reading. In contrast, on pseudoword reading, the English group performed considerably less well than their Czech and Slovak peers at every time point. Thus, weak decoding skills were the main contributor to the larger lexicality effects of the English group. These findings are considered within the frame of recent theorizing about the effect of orthographic consistency on decoding as a self-teaching mechanism in alphabetic reading acquisition.