Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni

When students experience traumatic events in their lives, school counselors are the experts in the building who step in, work with the students, and develop strategies to help them cope.  In essence, they are first responders in the schools when it comes to students' mental health.  I usually write about children's books that teachers and homeschooling parents can use while they are teaching, however, I recently learned about a book school and guidance counselors need to keep in their libraries.  Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni is about a little boy Tunde who loses his mother to a "dreadful disease" and takes comfort and solace in drawing, much to his father's dismay.  His father doesn't want Tunde to draw.  He wants Tunde to do more productive things with his time.  It isn't until something tragic happens that makes him realize how important it is to let Tunde draw and find joy again.  Keep reading to learn more about Draw Me Close to You and about ways school counselors and teachers can help students who are grieving.

Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni is a must-have picture book for school counselors. It explores the healing process after a child loses a parent.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

🍎 Author: Kossim Osseni
🍎 Illustrator: Diana Torres
🍎 Publisher: self-published
🍎 Date: September 23, 2020
🍎 Pages: 35

Author's Summary

Tunde loves art, but his demanding father has higher expectations of him. As the family deals with a loss, they reassess their priorities and reinforce their bond. Draw Me Close to you is a heartwarming story about loss, love, and acceptance between parents and their children. The audiobook is narrated by MaameYaa Boafo (Ramy, Buff City Law, The Mysterious Benedict Society), with Music by musical genius Elijah Aaron (Mentioned in The Huffington Post, People Magazine, Aol.com, and maybe more).

About Draw Me Close to You

Draw Me Close to You is a realistic fiction book that is based on real-life events.  The main characters, Tunde and his Papa Dele, live together in an urban apartment in Africa.  Tunde's mother dies from an unspecified disease and Tunde finds comfort in drawing and art... interests Tunde shared with his mother.  Tunde's father loves him very much but doesn't understand the full depth of what Tunde is feeling.  He is sometimes strict with Tunde which causes conflict between them.

Because it's based on real-life events, Draw Me Close to You will tug on your heartstrings and resonate with the feelings inside of you.  The first few times I read this story, I couldn't read it without getting emotional.  There were a couple of pages that really hit hard... the page in which Tunde's father scolds him and throws away Tunde's drawings and crayons... the pages in which Tunde gets hit by a car and spends three weeks in a coma... and the pages in which we see Tunde's father's heartbreaking.  Thankfully, there is a happily-ever-after ending that really needed to happen... not just for the sake of the story... but for our sakes as well.  I dare you to read Draw Me Close to You without getting emotional!  I don't think you can.

A Book for School Counselors

Books like Draw Me Close to You are often sought out by school counselors.  School counselors use children's literature as important tools to help children identify and better manage their feelings. For example, school counselors can read a book with a child to witness learn about the emotions in a story and try to analyze how the character is feeling and why. They can also observe how characters behave when they feel those emotions.  When books contain an empathetic character such as Tunde from Draw Me Close to You, children can see themselves in that character, identify how that character is feeling and apply it to how they are currently feeling.  Sometimes books provide the words for how children feel when children are unable to find the words for themselves and school counselors can help with that process.

Of course, classroom teachers may use Draw Me Close to You as well.  It's a powerful story that would keep students captivated and can be a catalyst for class discussions.  If you are going to read this book in a classroom setting, you need to consider a couple of factors before you do:
  • What is the emotional development and maturity of your students?  Draw Me Close to You will evoke strong emotions within your students.  Will they be able to manage those emotions?  Or will they get squirmy and make jokes to try and lighten the mood?  
  • How will your principal and your students' parents feel about you reading Draw Me Close to You in class?  Some parents and principals want to keep children protected as long as possible from the reality of hard issues like this.

Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni is a must-have picture book for school counselors. It explores the healing process after a child loses a parent.

When Children Grieve

It is estimated that 1.5 million children in the United States live in a single-parent home because of the loss of one parent and nearly 2 million children under 18 have lost both parents.  Chances are that at some point in your teaching or counseling career, you will work with someone who has either lost a parent or will lose one.  (In my 30ish years of teaching, I've had three students who watched their parents slowly die of cancer.)  How do you help these students?  You can't change what they are going through, but you can create an emotionally safe place for them during the day.  Things for you to keep in mind:
  • Give your student permission to grieve.  Let him/her know that feeling sad, mad, angry, numb are normal.  
  • Children grieve in different ways.  You may see your student withdraw into activities like drawing, reading, or video games.  He/she may also regress to childish behaviors such as sucking their thumbs or soiling their pants.
  • Grieving can come and go in waves.  Your student may be having a great day until something triggers an unexpected response.  Triggers like a certain scent, a picture in a book, or someone who walks or talks like the lost loved one can provoke a response.
  • Your student may ask you some hard questions about death and dying.  It's OK to answer those questions to the best of your ability.  If you are uncomfortable with answering the questions or don't know what to say, it's OK to tell him/her that.  Call the school counselor... that's what they're there for.
  • Keep T.H.E.M. in mind... Truth, Honor, Emotions, Memories... Be honest.  Honor their need to heal.  Expect the full range of emotions.  Keep memories alive.

Children's Grief Awareness Day

Children's Grief Awareness Day was created in 2008 and is observed on the third Thursday of every November. It was created in order to raise awareness of the hurt and pain children feel when they experience the death of a loved one and that adequate support can make it easier for the children to cope. People don't always realize that it can take children longer to go through the grieving process and manage their feelings than adults. This is because a lot of the struggle children go through is on the inside. Children's Grief Awareness Day raises awareness in order to help people learn ways they might help a grieving child they happen to know, now or in the future.  To learn more about Children's Grief Awareness Day and to obtain a list of resources to use, click on the image below.

Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni is a must-have picture book for school counselors. It explores the healing process after a child loses a parent.

To learn more about Draw Me Close to You by Kossim Osseni, watch this book trailer he posted on Youtube.  You can also listen to an audio version of the story by visiting Akoobooks Audio, a renowned website for African authors and publishers.
AkooBooks Audio


  1. Wow! Thank you so much Kelly. You and your words capture the book, and my intent in more ways than I ever could. I would have to read this several more times.

    1. Hi Kossim! You are very welcome. You wrote a moving and powerful book and it was my pleasure to write about it. I hope that it will bring comfort to the children and families who read it.

  2. This sounds like a very timely book given the loss and grief suffered around the world from the pandemic. Thank you so much for sharing with Multicultural Children's Book Day!