The above lists are compiled using the read-alongs I have, and the lists at the backs of the books. Anyone with more info or additions or discrepancies can e-mail and let me know!
The biggest run of read-alongs by any one company would seem to be Disney from the 1960s until now. There are probably more of the large format LPs that I haven’t come across, and the few I have don’t have lists. These large ones that have the booklets in the gatefold cover are really similar to the re-releases that came out in the 70s in the smaller common format, but the story was spread across only 11pages with more than one scene on each page, and not really intended as a read-along “word for word story narration” as the large LPs were far longer than the accompanying book. For instance, Robin Hood large LP has a mention of the villagers thinking Robin had drowned…. but in the 1973 small LP, they skip over that. The same applies to the large LP of Bedknobs & Broomsticks with regards to the story, but in this case also the artwork changed. The small one uses images like the animated segments of the movie, and the large LP has more of a pastel drawing style.
The original small LP Mary Poppins from 1977 had artwork and Burt walked the reader through the story. I have the book, but unfortunately not the audio. I do however have the 1997 book with audio, and it’s photos and dialogue taken straight from the movie, and is entirely different that the 1977 version.
The 1990s ones mostly seem to be the same as the original 1970s/80s ones, but the books are about an inch taller, and most of the covers are framed with pink. Only a few like Ariel’s Secret Grotto and the Lion King Brightest Star seem to be lacking the pink.
Does anyone know if the 1997 SE Star Wars trilogy ones have different photos and words than the originals? I recently saw a small image showing the back with an image of one of the pages, and it looked like it might be different.
The early 1970s ones said Disneyland Records on the back, but at some point started using the Buena Vista. Then in the 1990s, they said Disney Audio Entertainment or Walt Disney Records. In both cases I kept the sections together because it didn’t seem to mean a whole new series run.
Then we have the numbering system. The earliest one I can see listed is Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, at #327. The Robin Hood small LP is older (1973) but doesn’t have a number. I don’t know why they didn’t just start at #1! I didn’t list them by numerical order because I think it’s easier to go down the list by title. If I did it by number, then not all the Winnie the Pooh books would be listed together, etc. So most of the books have these 3 digit numbers. But, there’s an overlap. My Star Wars ones and a few others came together in a plastic case, and have numbers with a DC in them. They don’t have lists inside the back cover. But I have other individual books that also have this DC and are part of a series called Walt Disney Storyteller Tapes. These are numbered 1DC to 33DC. So what does DC mean? I have no idea. Maybe a separate re-printing, but the copyright years remain the same. However, all of these DC books are also available without the DC numbers and have the regular 3 digit numbers, but otherwise are exactly the same as the DCs, even with regards to the copyright date. There are also a few with a B in the number. They seem to be mostly on ones made in the late 80s, although Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a DC, and it’s from 1989. Go figure! But we can drop this numbering subject when talking about the 1990s re-issues, because they don’t have any numbers. *phew*
While Buena Vista was distributing the read-alongs here in Canada and in the US, a company called Rainbow was distributing in the UK. Most of the titles are exactly the same as the Buena Vista ones, but they had some we didn’t, and vice versa. I’d love to see their Rambo, Howard the Duck, and Short Circuit. Plus I’ve been told there is a really rare Back to the Future one, but I’m not sure if it’s Rainbow. It seems to have been the only company to put out the read-alongs in the UK. Also, I have been sent the audio for two UK ones. James Bond: The Living Daylights and V: The Series. Both are much longer than normal read-alongs, and the Bond one is higher quality than the Kid Stuff Bond ones. In a few cases the UK ones did have different covers. Roger Rabbit for instance.
That takes us to the subject of other companies doing read-alongs. Kid Stuff put out quite a few, but their production value wasn’t as high. They are all drawings instead of photographs, plus some are only black and white like a colouring book. They had some good subjects though, and the voiceovers were pretty funny. The list above is mostly taken from the back of one of the Kid Stuff books, but their list isn’t very specific. It just says G.I. Joe, and I know there were more than one. Until I find out for sure, I just left the generic entries unless it’s one I have or specifically know the title of.
Peter Pan Records was the other main distributor or read-alongs. The only one I have is the A-Team: The Maltese Cow, and I know there are a few other A-Team ones, but they don’t even list them inside. All the ones listed are non-Disney versions of classic tales, or entirely new stories.
Finally there are a few hodgepodge ones I should add under a Miscellaneous section. I have a skinny little square-bound one for Chicken Run that was put out by Dreamworks. I’m not sure if Dreamworks has others in a regular square format, but I think I’ve seen one for Sinbad and the Seven Seas on ebay. I’ll have to find out. I also have an excellent 3D Rocketeer comic that has a binaural audio cassette for a really surround experience, especially on headphones.
I think it’s too bad they don’t make much in the way of read-alongs nowadays. One for Pirates of the Caribbean would have been terrific, and why was there one for Star Wars Episode I but not II or III. I guess when VHS came out and now DVDs and computers, kids have so many other ways to relive movies and learn. But I imagine that in the 70s and early 80s, it was the only way to relive a movie after it was gone from theaters. The only one we had as kids was Temple of Doom, and I know I listened to it quite a bit. Disney does still release read-alongs, but only for animated movie. I’d like to hear the Pixar ones sometimes. Actually, soon I’ll add a section for the 2004 sets that I know came out last year. Disney seems to continually re-release the books based on their animated movies, but it’s unfortunate they don’t or can’t re-release some of the live action ones, or make new ones. The ones I enjoy the most are ones based on movies or shows, especially live action ones, with the non-original actors.