A good story can transcend time and cultural differences…that is as long as you can understand the words in which it is written. Luckily for us, the best stories have been translated into numerous dialects.
It’s a commonly known fact that The Bible is the world’s most translated book, so to make this list of the world’s most translated books a little more interesting, we’ll be excluding religious texts. So, without further ado…
10. The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas (Kon-Tiki ekspedisjonen),by Thor Heyerdahl (1948)
An account of the journey taken by Norwegian Heyerdahl across the Pacific Ocean, travelling from South America to the Polynesian islands on a log raft. When it was first published in Norway, the book sold-out in just 15 days.
9. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (1947)
Often referred to as The Diary of Anne Frank, it’s a journal of a young Jewish girl in hiding with her family during the German occupation of Amsterdam. Originally written in Dutch, Anne’s diary has been translated into 72 other languages.
8. Sleep Tight, Little Wolf, by Ulrich Renz & Illustrated by Barbara Brinkmann (2015)
A bedtime story about a young boy who’s misplaced his stuffed wolf. A unique entry on the list, as well as being available in 77 different languages, it’s also available in bilingual editions of any combination of those languages.
7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling (1997)
The seven instalments of the Harry Potter series have been translated to date into 80 languages, with the most recent being Hawaiian, with a Mongolian one on the way. It’s a slow process, because not everything translates directly from the original English, such as riddles and names based on anagrams and wordplay which feature throughout the novels.
The series follows the adventures of a young boy who attends a school of wizardry, and is inexplicably tied to a re-emerging force of evil.
6. Asterix the Gaul, by Rene Goscinny & Illustrated by Albert Uderzo (1959)
The first volume of the French comic strip series The Adventures of Asterix has been translated into 115 languages, and in 1999 came 23rdin Le Monde’s 100 Books of the Century. Set in the time of the Roman Empire, the series follows the tales of the only unoccupied village in Gaul (modern day Brittany).
5. Am I Small? (Bin ich klein?), by Phillipe Winterberg & Illustrated Nadja Wichmann (2013)
This German children’s book has been translated into 120 different languages, and follows a young girl named Tamia who asks various animals “Am I small?”
4. The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha (El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha), by Miguel de Cervantes (1605,1615)
The Spanish novel generally referred to as Don Quixote often appears on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever written, and considered a precursor to modern literature. The novels follow the adventures of a noble named Alonso Quixano, who, after reading too many chivalric romances, decides to become a knight of the realm.
3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (1845)
The nonsensical tale of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and appears in a fantasy world where logic is flipped on its head. Since its publication, the story has been translated into 174 languages and adapted into various comic books, games, and 35 movies & shows, most notably Disney’s 1951 animation.
2. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)
The story of a lonely prince who lives on a small asteroid-like planet and visits Earth, befriending a pilot stranded in the Sahara Desert. While the pilot repairs his craft, the prince recounts his life story. The whimsical tale has been translated into 300 different languages and dialects and in it’s native France was voted The Best Book of the 20thCentury.
1. The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio), by Carlo Collodi (1883)
The classic tale of a marionette, who, after being granted life, sets out to become a real boy. Originally the story was published as a serialisation in Italian children’s magazine Giornale per i bambiniunder the name The Story of a Puppet. As of 2018, The Adventures of Pinocchio has been translated into over 300 different languages.