It's always difficult to select texts and create units that engage high school students. Then, when we do, often times no matter how hard we try there are always some students who still won’t relate to them. As teachers we constantly strive to push students to engage with literature even when it doesn’t seem directly to relate to them, and just as constantly do students resist this pressure.
I think there is some value to addressing this act of “relating” directly by examining and questioning it. What does it mean to relate to something? What does it mean for a text to be relevant? And, to push further: What is it exactly that is relatable? Who are you that you relate to something? And how does literature bridge this gap between such different lived experiences? This leads to fundamental questions about the natures of literature and identity that I believe can provide an opportunity to create a meaningful unit of study for any high- or middle-school English classroom.