BACKGROUND: The literature suggests that a complex relationship exists between the three main skills involved in reading comprehension (decoding, listening comprehension and vocabulary) and that this relationship depends on at least three other factors orthographic transparency, children's grade level and socioeconomic status (SES). This study investigated the relative contribution of the predictors of reading comprehension in a longitudinal design (from beginning to end of the first grade) in 394 French children from low SES families. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Reading comprehension was measured at the end of the first grade using two tasks one with short utterances and one with a medium length narrative text. Accuracy in listening comprehension and vocabulary, and fluency of decoding skills, were measured at the beginning and end of the first grade. Accuracy in decoding skills was measured only at the beginning. Regression analyses showed that listening comprehension and decoding skills (accuracy and fluency) always significantly predicted reading comprehension. The contribution of decoding was greater when reading comprehension was assessed via the task using short utterances. Between the two assessments, the contribution of vocabulary, and of decoding skills especially, increased, while that of listening comprehension remained unchanged. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: These results challenge the 'simple view of reading'. They also have educational implications, since they show that it is possible to assess decoding and reading comprehension very early on in an orthography (i.e., French), which is less deep than the English one even in low SES children. These assessments, associated with those of listening comprehension and vocabulary, may allow early identification of children at risk for reading difficulty, and to set up early remedial training, which is the most effective, for them.