I do agree with everyone who says that whatever they read informs their writing - my experiences and interests, literary or otherwise, are the single biggest well of story material available to me. But sometimes there are specific things I want to be more aware of, or to get better at. For example, my first book originally had a female MC. Felt like the way to go, but I wasn't at all confident about my ability to write a female protagonist, so for a while all I read were books with female protagonists (which is not how I usually make my reading choices). Diane, I did similar things to what you did, picking out books with commercial or critical success, or status as recognized classics that were new to me, or buzz in various places, including here. So I read ARTEMIS FOWL (meh), and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (funny in unexpected ways), and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (my choked-up reaction in no way diminishes my rugged manhood), and THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO (awesome!).
Awareness is a big part of it for me too - I didn't pay all that much ATTENTION to the children's market, I just read stuff as I heard about it instead of actively seeking it out.