We measured Chinese dyslexic and control children's eye movements during rapid automatized naming (RAN) with alphanumeric (digits) and symbolic (dice surfaces) stimuli. Both types of stimuli required identical oral responses, controlling for effects associated with speech production. Results showed that naming dice was much slower than naming digits for both groups, but group differences in eye‐movement measures and in the eye–voice span (i.e. the distance between the currently fixated item and the voiced item) were generally larger in digit‐RAN than in dice‐RAN. In addition, dyslexics were less efficient in parafoveal processing in these RAN tasks. Since the two RAN tasks required the same phonological output and on the assumption that naming dice is less practiced than naming digits in general, the results suggest that the translation of alphanumeric visual symbols into phonological codes is less efficient in dyslexic children. The dissociation of the print‐to‐sound conversion and phonological representation suggests that the degree of automaticity in translation from visual symbols to phonological codes in addition to phonological processing per se is also critical to understanding dyslexia. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.