While waiting for a library visit to begin, I found this quote by the award-winning author Lois Lowry on the wall: “You don’t become a great cook if you never taste good food. The same is true for writing.”
Now I’m guessing that Ms. Lowry expanded on this thought considerably in some speech or article. But let me extend her metaphor a bit. You don’t become a great French chef if you don’t taste good French food. The same is true for writing. If you want to write picture books, read them. The same goes for any other category or genre. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read outside your genre. The great chefs combine tastes from a wide number of cuisines to surprise and delight those who eat at their restaurants. So do great writers. They challenge and defy conventions. But it’s almost essential to know what the conventions are so that you know when and why they should be broken.