The first boy to call me beautiful

by Alexa Patrick

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Beautiful

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have you ever felt “less than”? In what way? What made you feel that way? In other words, why was your standard of worth less than it should have been?” Then give them time to discuss.

Step 2

Read “The first boy to call me beautiful” by Alexa Patrick. When you’re done, briefly discuss the ways in which the speaker of the poem and her friend, Richie, behave. Why do they behave in such ways?

Step 3

Say, “Think of some instances in which other people’s standards of “whatever” were imposed upon you. How did you feel? How did you react?”

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “The first boy to call me beautiful” in which they discuss a time when other people’s standards were imposed upon them and how they reacted to those impositions.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Watch the following scene from the film Malcolm X and the short speech that follows. When the video is over, ask your students about the significance of Malcolm X choosing to “conk” (or straighten) his hair. What was the larger significance behind him desiring to do that? Was his subsequent shame really just about his hair? Discuss.

Step 3

Read “The first boy to call me beautiful” by Alexa Patrick. When you finish reading aloud, ask your students how the meaning of the work as a whole reflects, reiterates, or resembles the message from Malcolm X’s speech.

Step 4

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to construct a “found poem” using only the text of “The first boy to call me beautiful.” The poem should reflect the same concepts and themes of the poem and the excerpt from Malcolm X’s speech. Then give your students time to work.

Step 5

When you are done, have a few students share their poems with the rest of the class. Or, if you’d like for all of them to be visible to their peers, you may have them copy/paste their poems into a Padlet or Jamboard.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Body / Body Image
  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • Friendship
  • Home / Homelessness
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Structure (Line Breaks)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Racism or Racial Slurs