Thank you all for your replies and recommendations!
Just to explain, I have several reasons for limiting the fantasy at this time. My DD is 19 months old and I have been reading/showing her books since she was 4 months old. I started out with all the classics: Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, etc. but to be honest, I felt kind of silly pointing to a rabbit sitting on a chair and knitting and telling her that this was a rabbit. I mean, it is not a rabbit. Rabbits don't do that. Why would I mislead her into thinking that this was a rabbit? I had not read info on Montessori at that point but when I did, I completely understood the reasoning. Adults tend to show children these types of books because young children are gullible enough to believe them and to me, this does not show a lot of respect for the child, nor does assist an infant or toddler in developing an understanding of the real world. I suppose I could explain to DD that this is pretend but at 19 months, I don't think that she is going to understand those concepts!
But the other big reason that I have since avoided the unreal books is that even now, DD is just not interested in these books. I do have friends who tell me that their toddlers love them but when I start to read my DD a page from Dr. Seuss, she shuts the book and takes it back to her book shelf and looks for something else!! The pictures in Dr. Seuss are not great and she is not interested in me reading all that text. She LOVES the DK books. I completely agree that the images are often too scattered but I find them to be the best of what is available in photo books.
To be honest, when I look at the level of comprehension required for Dr. Seuss, to me it seems far more suited to a 6-year old, not a baby or even a toddler. The front cover even says "An I-can-read-it-myself Book". I think this means that the book was meant for beginner readers, not younger children.
The final reason that I have used the DK books so much is that we live in France. I am a native English speaker and DH is French. DD spends 6 hours per weekday in French public daycare and apart from me, almost all other communication in her environment is French. I am really keen on her becoming completely bilingual and the DK books have been fabulous in building her English vocabulary. She knows more expressions in French but she knows far more things
in English, thanks in part to these books. Of course, story books and nursery rhymes will also be essential for building a sense of the structure and rhythm of the English language but the DK books have provided a good base.
Note that I have not been trying to avoid fiction
at all, just fantasy
. The two are different. It is actually fiction that I am looking for at present but realistic fiction, and preferably something that DD can identify with in her daily life.
I think the Mom on this link has a really common-sense view re the whole fantasy-reality issue:http://www.montessorimom.com/?Book_Corner