Because multimedia computer programs may provide promising opportunities for the training of initial reading and spelling skills, two small-scale pilot studies have been conducted with a recently-developed program to examine its efficacy and impact on the motivation of the users. The first study is concerned with the use of the program in kindergarten children (K2). As there is no curriculum for these children, a computer program that is fully adaptive may well boost their independence in learning to read and spell. The main finding in this study was that kindergarten readers learned in up to 16 hours of computer practice as much as is normally attained in the first 3 months of formal reading instruction in the classroom. In the second study, reading-disabled students with low levels of motivation engaged in computer-based spelling practice. The most important finding in this study was that the amount of non-task directed behaviour of those who had practised with the computer significantly decreased during both computer sessions and classroom sessions. In the discussion the way in which computers can be used most efficiently for the instruction of reading and spelling is analysed and suggestions for further research and development are presented.