** This article is updated regularly. It was last updated in November 2021 **
Book translation pre-dates the printing of books considerably. In fact, the very first book printed in English was a translation. William Caxton, who introduced the printing press to England, printed The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye in 1473, which he had translated from the French original of Raoul Lefèvre.
Today, the world’s most translated religious book in the world is The Bible. At least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2,883 languages; the New Testament has been translated into 1,329 languages; and the Old and New Testaments together have been translated into 531 languages.
Other religious books and pamphlets also feature on the list of the world’s most translated publications, thanks to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the globe. Their publication, Listen to God and Live Forever, has been translated into 583 languages in total.
Leaving religion aside, the most translated book in the world is Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. The beloved children’s tale of the little wooden boy has been translated into more than 260 languages since it was first published in 1883.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, has also fared well, having been translated into 253 languages since its publication in 1943. Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen’s Andersen’s Fairy Tales have also been widely translated.
When it comes to the top 25 most translated literary works, only one book is neither a religious text nor a children’s tale. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by French author Jules Verne has been translated into 148 languages since it was first published in serial format in 1869-1870. The adventure tale has struck a chord with readers around the world ever since.
With new figures now available, we felt it was worth providing a June 2018 update to this article. The Bible remains the world’s most translated book, with at least one book now available in a staggering 3,312 languages. The New Testament is available in 2,191 languages, while the Old and New Testaments together can be read in 670 languages.
For non-religious texts, The Little Prince has now overtaken Pinocchio as the world’s most translated work of fiction. The latest figures reveal that Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s classic work is now available in around 300 languages, while Pinocchio remains at the 260 mark.
We check in on this article and update it from time to time to ensure that its contents are still current. And indeed they are! At the time of writing the Bible is the most translated book in the world - still. At least one book of the Bible is available in 3,312 languages. That's approaching half of all the languages on the planet!
The tireless work of the Jehovah's Witnesses has much to do with this impressive record. The religion has stepped up its translation efforts in recent years. You can read more about this, and the reasoning behind it, by clicking the link below.
In terms of children's books, Pinocchio has reclaimed the top spot, making it the second most translated book in the world. With over 300 translations from the original Italian novel, Pinocchio has charmed young listeners (and Disney fans) around the world for generations.
Third in the top five most translated books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, at around 300 translations.
In fourth place, we see the Jehovah's Witnesses at work once more. Their work entitled So What Does the Bible Really Teach? has been translated into 272 translations.
The final entrant in the top five world's most translated books is the Dao De Jing. This Chinese tract, also known as the Tao Te Ching, is believed to have been created by the sage Laozi in the 6th century BC. It is a fundamental text for Taoism, in both religious and philosophical terms.
Read more: What Is the World's Most Translated Website?
When we last updated this article, the Bible was the most translated book in the world, with at least one book availble in 3,312 languages. Does it still top the list of the most translated books in the world in 2021? Yes, it most certainly does.
As at November 2021, at least one book of the Bible has been translated into 3,384 languages. Wow.
The number of translations of the New Testament is also impressive, with a total of 2,191 languages available.
One of the most recent translations of parts of the Bible was the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in Quechua, delievered by Jehovah's Witnesses in Bolivia (you can click the link below to discover more about the languages of South America).
Late 2021 has also seen the Jehovah's Witnesses release the first Bible books in Venezuelan Sign Language and a translation of the Bible into the Lunda language in Zambia.
In terms of the second and third most translated books, The Adventures of Pinocchio and The Little Prince continue to vye for position. The lastest estimates put The Little Prince back in second position, with a total of 382 translations, making Pinocchio the third most translated book in the world.
As ever, we'll keep monitoring these figures and update you again in due course.
Read more: Languages of South America
Which is your favourite translated book? Do you ever read the same book in more than one language? Share your views in the comments section.