Orienting and focusing of visual attention are two processes strictly involved in reading. They were studied in a group of dyslexic children and normal readers. Shifting of attention by both peripheral and central visual cues was studied by means of the covert orienting paradigm. Focusing, consisting in the ability to control the size of the attentional focus, was investigated using simple reaction times in central vision. Results showed that dyslexics had a specific disability in the shifting of attention caused by a peripheral cue at short SOAs, and were also able to maintain attention focused for short periods of time only, presumably not long enough for efficient visual processing. Our results support the suggestion that visual selective attention deficits in disabled readers may be due to a specific difficulty in orienting and focusing.