Anyone with a toddler spends a significant percentage of their time reading out loud. Reading the same book. Repeating the same line. Doing the voices. Over and over and over.
I like to tell myself reading time with the toddler is a step...well, maybe not up. But a step forward.
When they tell you to read more to become a better writer, children's books (or more specifically, books for toddler aged children) aren't what's being kept in mind. And yet...
They do boast a variety of best writing practices.
Those books always have the best sentence structure.
They use sensory detail by describing textures, colours, temperatures.
They give you a sense of place...
...and a sense of magic
Incredibly imaginative in ways more akin to speculative fiction than literary fiction
They use alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia, and any number of poetic devices.
Reading them out loud has also made me a lot less self-conscious about the sound of my own voice reading my writing out loud. Which is an incredibly necessary part of writing readable literature.
Reading out your work breathes life into it. The perspective shifts. When you hear your writing spoken aloud it becomes its own entity entering into its natural habitat. Will it do well there? You identify the flaws as it is being spoken. Your brain shifts from R-mode to L-mode, from paddling in the giant ocean of holistic creativity to becoming a sharp beam of light illuminating each individual word in a sentence structure. It is a great help to the editing process.
Reading to toddlers doesn't have the same vibe as lounging in a chair at a table for one in an aesthetically pleasing coffee shop, typing out your bestselling novel. But I will firmly believe as unromantic as it is, reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" for the eleventy first time is no less a boost towards writing great fiction.