Our family is composed of library junkies. In Maine, we visit our fabulous public library at least once a week and reliably stumble back home home under the weight of tote bags overloaded with books. Maybe it was the years I spent in India and Tanzania with limited access to reading materials, but if there’s one thing I tend to over-pack before a trip, it’s books. I get nervous when we stray too far from our library.

In this respect, we were lucky to land in Monteverde. In addition to running a school, the Quakers operate a community library. In perfect Quaker spirit, the library is never locked, and check outs are done on the honor system. A dedicated volunteer staff meets at least once a week to index donations and to manage the collection of more than 20,000 books. In terms of community spirit, this library is one of a kind. Yet there was one thing we missed from our library back in Maine: access to abundant, new picture books.

I published an essay in The Washington Post about the Monteverde Friends Library and the ingenious gift relatives offered my kids over the course of our year abroad–a monthly care package of graphic novels. The kids waited with bated breath for these packages, and after they opened them, the house fell silent for hours as they disappeared into the books.

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 2.33.23 PM

I hope you enjoy reading about our year in graphic novels–we relished each of the books sent to us, and now that we’re back in Maine, we remember the Monteverde Library with great fondness.

If you and your family have lived or traveled abroad with limited access to books, leave a comment to tell us about your experience. Did you rely on e-readers? Maybe you passed precious books around the local expat community? Or did you develop some other solution?