For my writing, I consider it essential to read the kinds of books I write. So, my bedside table is stacked with MG and YA novels (I don't write YA yet, but I like reading them). I tend to read these for enjoyment first, and then afterward, I occasionally think about elements that are related to the craft, like the voice, the language, the dialogue, or the way the story is constructed. I estimate that about 40% to 50% of what I've read over the past couple of years has been books for children.
I wonder what the librarians at my local branch library think of me, getting all these kids books on hold? Maybe they think I have 5 kids at home who read all the time!
My goal has been to immerse myself in the style, the voice, and the structure of the kinds of books I want to write. It has definitely paid off. I know my writing has become much stronger since I've started doing this. (And it's fun!)
In case you were wondering, outside of kidlit, I read "how-to" writing books (this is beginning to sound like an obsession), blog posts (about writing, of course), books for my teaching job, cookbooks, a quick scan of the daily newspaper, and some adult mysteries and chicklit because I do sometimes want to read about adults. I'm guessing this other reading has less impact on my writing, except for the writing-related nonfiction.
What do you read? How much impact do you think it has on your writing?