9 Most Translated Books in the World – 2023 Updated Edition
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Reading is equivalent to having a person speaking to you. Books are a great escape if you need to get a glimpse of dystopian worlds or the human mind. However, not all books can be read in the language they have been initially written, so to make books universally available to most people, they are usually translated to the most spoken languages.
A book is words, ideas, mindsets, advice and knowledge wrapped up into a portable collection of papers. Reading gives us understanding, reasoning, and critical thinking, and helps us to get a growth mindset when learning other disciplines.
Table of Contents
- Why is Literary Translation important?
- The 8 Most Translated Books in the World
- 1. The Bible (3350 Languages)
- 2. The Little Prince (380 Languages)
- 3. The Adventures of Pinocchio (260 Languages)
- 4. Tao Te Ching (250 Languages)
- 5. The Communist Manifesto (200 languages)
- 6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (174 Languages)
- 7. Steps to Christ (160 Languages)
- 8. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (140 Languages)
- 9. Andersen’s Fairy Tales (129 Languages)
- Surprising Most Translated Books in the World – Special Mentions
- Wrap up!
- Resources and further reading
Why is Literary Translation important?
From fiction and non-fiction to holy writings or comic books, many of them are translated in lot of languages. The most number of books that appear in the list of translated versions are, without surprises, children’s stories.
For cross borders, a book is translated. This is the easiest way to market a book. The more languages are converted, obviously more people would be able to read it.
The work of a translator is not easy at all, as they face many challenges during translation. They need to have a proper knowledge on both languages they are translating. They use their magical way of transforming literature into a different language without losing identity. Sometimes, an original book does not get enough attention, but then lot of people find the way to reading it in translated versions, and because of that it becomes more famous.
The 8 Most Translated Books in the World
It is hard to give a 100% accurate ranking, because in this globalized world, tons of books are translated. Here’s a list of the top most translated books in history by the year 2023:
1. The Bible (3350 Languages)
Most religious books are translated quickly into many languages to spread them. The Bible has been translated in more than 3350 languages. The New Testament in more than 2000 and the Old Testament in 700 aproximately! Which makes it, with no doubt, the most translated book in the world breaking all records.
2. The Little Prince (380 Languages)
This storybook is famous for the poetic tale and also for the watercolor illustrations that comes with him. The author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, has done his best to create an amazing world with his art, and was originally written in French. The story starts with a pilot getting lost in the Sahara Desert and finds a little blonde boy that asks him to draw a sheep. After that starts a story that shows the importance of life. Published in 1943, the book can be found in more than 380 languages and has sold over 140 million copies.
3. The Adventures of Pinocchio (260 Languages)
Not only kids also adults are fans of a good story with a moral. Carlo Collodi wrote Pinocchio originally in Italian. It is a story of the small wooden boy who has a habit of lying. This book has been translated in more than 250 languages since it was published in 1883.
4. Tao Te Ching (250 Languages)
Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) is an ancient Chinese philosophical and moral text often attributed to Laozi (or Lao-tzu), “the old master.” Considered a fundamental text, both philosophical and religious for Taoists. Taoism holds that humans and animals should live in balance with the Tao, or the universe. Taoists believe in spiritual immortality, where the spirit of the body joins the universe after death.
It also influenced many other schools of Chinese philosophy and religion, like Legalism, Confucianism, or Chinese Buddhism. The verse can be difficult to understand, and many people have spent their entire lives dedicated to the study of the Tao Te Ching.
5. The Communist Manifesto (200 languages)
The communist manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848, reflects an attempt to explain the goals of Communism, as well as the theory underlying this movement. It argues that social class struggles are lead by exploitation of one class to another and that these are the motivating forces behind every historical developments. Marx sought to explain the development of modern society in terms of historical materialism.
By exposing the true nature of modern society, Marx and Engels hoped to engage their audience in the revolutionary cause of the Communist League.
6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (174 Languages)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been an attraction to young and old readers since it had been first published in 1865. This is a story of a girl that loses her way and finds herself in a magical world.
Lewis Carrol uses in his book captivating wordplay and exciting plots to keep the readers engaged the longest. It was written in English and is found in almost 174 different languages around the world and is still reading with great affection. Like many other children’s books, this one was also turned in a movie version.
7. Steps to Christ (160 Languages)
Steps to Christ was first published in 1892 and written by Ellen G. White, pioneer and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The book defines what Seventh-day Adventists believe, in maters such as salvation, the nature of man, and how a Christian’s life should be. It covers the topics of repentance, confession, faith, acceptance, growing into Christ, and prayer.
8. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (140 Languages)
Its full title is The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha (Modern Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha). The plot revolves around the adventures of a member of the lowest nobility, an hidalgo from La Mancha named Alonso Quixano, who loses or pretends to have lost his mind due to the reading of many chivalric romances and adventure books. He becomes a knight-errant (caballero andante) to revive chivalry and serve his nation, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.
9. Andersen’s Fairy Tales (129 Languages)
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author. Andersen’s fairy tales, consists of more than 150 stories across nine volumes that have been translated into more than 125 languages.
These tales have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children. They present lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well.His most famous fairy tales include “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Nightingale”, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” or “The Red Shoes”.
Surprising Most Translated Books in the World – Special Mentions
We could not end this list without mentioning some other most translated books in the world that were not included in this list. We will go through some of the books you might have thought were going to be included in this book ranking:
The Quran (173 Languages)
The Qur’an is the Holy Book of Muslims. With 1.8 billion adherents of Islam, which constitutes the second-largest world’s religious group (after christians) and more than 24% of the world population, the Quran is believed to be revealed by God to the last Prophet Mohammed, through Archangel Gabriel. It was written in Ancient Arabic and has been partially translated into almost 173 different languages. However, according to Islamic theology, the Qurʻan is a revelation written specifically in Arabic, and so it should only be recited in Quranic Arabic. Translations into other languages are necessarily the work of humans and so, according to Muslims, no longer possess the uniquely sacred character of the Arabic original.
The Quran is probably the second most translated book in the world although oficially we cannot include it in the list, because it has not been fully translated, only partially. The quoran consists of Surahs (chapters) and further divided into Ayahs (verses). Some of these Ayahs and Surahs have been translated to 114 languages but the complete book was only translated to 47 languages of the world.
Pippi Longstockings (70 Languages)
Leaving religion aside, Pippi Longstocking, named initially as Pippi Långstrump, was created by Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish writer.
This one is a story about a normal little girl who has superhuman powers. Her father is a sailor, and she also has a tiny monkey named Mr Nilsson.
The Alchemist (70 Languages)
Paulo Coelho is well-known in modern society. His book was translated into more than 80 languages with more than 65 million copies sold. The story starts with a small shepherd boy and his journey that guides him to his treasure through the Arabian Peninsula. Although the book is about society, time and culture that most people doesn’t experience, but the book is very relatable and healing to those who have faced any hardships in the world
The Harry Potter Series (70 Languages)
The series has eight fantasy novels that, with his own vocabulary, illustrate the world of magic. It’s a story of a young wizard boy, in his wizard school, with his wizards friends. The trio, popularly known as Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Harmonie Granger, fight against the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel, named as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (later changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). It was published in 1997 and since then it has been translated into more than 70 languages, creating many Potterheads and a whole new fandom.
Books are an experience that can’t be found in any other form. Ingenious authors work hard to put a great story in front of us. What happens to be your favourite book? Is it famous and has it been translated into other languages?
Thanks for reading! Make sure you check our Blog for more free articles on this and other topics related with Languages, Language Learning and Translations.
Resources and further reading
- List of Bible Translations by Language – Wikipedia
- The Little Prince becomes worlds most translated book excluding religious works – CTVNEWS
- How many translations does The Little Prince have? – Wikipedia
- Most translated author, same book – Guiness World Records
- Daoist Texts in Translation by Louis Komjathy, Boston University
- Alice in a World of Wonderlands
- Steps to Christ – Wikipedia
- Biblioteca nacional de España
- Don Quixote – Wikipedia
Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.Keep updating more information from your blog.I will be waiting for your next post
Please correct your wrong statement about the Quran
“This is the Holy Book of Muslims witch it is said that God gives it to his last prophet, Archangel Gabriel. ”
Gabriel is not a prophet. The correct statement should read “The Quran was revealed by God to the last Prophet Mohammed, through Archangel Gabriel.”
Thanks for pointing it out Asif! We will update the information right now.
Ive never seen translation books from the 1700s. The origin of translation might be by people that committed forced rape, especially some languages. How did the first people translate a language they don’t know? Especially island languages and very different languages. English is a island language and genetics such as other languages. Two people that don’t know the same language dating is some kind of rape or dating in a language not your own.
Get your facts right please… bible is more than 7000 language and before you jump to second position, Kindly check Rhapsody of Realities, written by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. It’s more than 5000 languages
Thank you for your comment Michael! According to our sources our article is completely right, please refer us to your facts about the bible and feel free to check ours:
Translations in the Bible by Language – Wikipedia
Worlds most translated book excluding Religious Works
Hello Emmanuel, thank you for your comment. Please kindly check sources and other comments on the topic and you will see our information is accurate.
Maqdis Quran is a method to learn Arabic through word by word translation.
Wow Thanks for this article, Now i know whats the most translated books now in the world. Read here for more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_literary_works_by_number_of_translations
The Rhapsody of Realities daily devotional is currently in over 5000 languages of the world. Kindly check up and update your info
Hello Emmanuel, thank you for your comment.
For your information, during our research regarding this article we investigated the Rhapsody of Realities. However, none of the official sources mentioned in the article acknowledges it as being translated to more than 5000 languages, as you point out.
Please point us to your sources and we will be glad to check them. Kind regards.
You left out Rhapsody of realities by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, which has been translated into over 5000 languages and counting as at 2022
Thanks for your comment Kingsley! Please feel free to check our other comments on the topic or point us to your sources. Thank you.
The Bible is the most translated book in the world
Not to pick on you for your informative page, only to suggest the need for someone to spell check☺️
As at 2018, according to Wikipedia The RHAPSODY OF REALITIES is the most translated book after tbe BIBLE.
It currently has over 7000 translations.
Please do a honest review on the book.
Except you belong to the leftists who are against the gospel all over the world.
Thank you for your comment Kelvin!
According to wikipedia this is the complete list of literary works by number of translations. As you can see there are no references to the book you mention or the facts you point out. Please kindly point us to your sources so that we can review them.
The most translated book now, is the bible or the quoran with over 7000 languages on both. Awesome. Thanks for the article!
Your fact are accurate! Presently Bible is the most translated book. Probably the best curated article about translated books in the net, thank you for the effort!
If we should think of the world at large, there’s a book called “The Communist Manifesto”. A communist manifesto who’s writers are German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Also the Book of Mormon, important books worth to mention. Hard to see which of these books has been translated the most in the year 2022.
This is by far the most accurate article about book in the world. Thanks!
Hello Joshua! Thanks for your kind comment.
You are right about the communists manifesto, it has been recently confirmed as one of the most translated books in the world and is now included in our ranking.
About the Book of Mormon, it would be the 11th book on the ranking, as it has been translated to more than 110 langauges.
Thanks for sharing the list of most translated texts and books in the world.Really very helpful & informative article.I really appreciate your research.
The Lord of the Rings has been translated not been translated this much? Wow this is actually suprising! Thanks for the article, really accurate.
I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas some time ago, great book, thought it would be on this list. Thanks for the information!
This is trully good info on translated books, thanks for the effort, it helped me a lot with a highschool work.
Hi, checked out your blog cause was curious to know most translated book in the world after the bible
I’m not sure how it got missed, but Jehovah’s Witnesses has their literature translated into a massive amount of languages(last time I checked, their website had over 1000 languages).
This is just one book from their website: What Can The Bible Teach Us? Use the language toolbar, and notice how many languages it’s available in.
According to this source, the previous book’s predecessor – What does the Bible really teach – was translated into 272 languages. All of their publications/translations are available on their website, so if you’ve got the time to count, your list is definitely missing some entries!
Forgot the second source!
Great and very good information, did not expect all this strange books to be the most translated some of them i dont know
Great article, was doing a scholar job and found this article, I just copied pasted hehe thanks!
Looks like The Pilgrim’s Progress has just over 200.
What a great article!
There are presently around 7858 languages of the world!
Hello. Thank you for always free and good translation blog
Great to have this list updated!!! Good job
Great list, very comprehensible, keep on the good work translateday!
Probably the best article on books translated and well structured to the core, has been really great knowing your website Translateday, will check on the future.
Very informative and lot of knowledge about most translated books.
You missed Bhagwadgeeta
Fun to read. Did not know about these books but i will read some of them for curiosity.