Author Spotlight: Jen Barton


Nov. 25, 2022

We are pleased to feature author Jen Barton and her biography, BERNICE SANDLER AND THE FIGHT FOR TITLE IX, illustrated by Sarah Green (Magination Press 2022) (for ages 12-18 and up). Enter to win a copy! 

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children and teens.


Hi! I live on a farm in Pennsylvania with my husband and our new puppy named Izzy, who’s keeping us both very busy right now. I grew up with a love of reading, which I learned from my mom. There were always lots of books around our house. It was the 70’s and she read a lot of Stephen King. I remember the covers of those books, especially Pet Semetary, being so tantalizing! I couldn’t wait to be old enough to find out what was between those covers. So reading, and later writing, became important to me. Years later, as an adult, a young friend asked me to write a story for her. That story turned into my first book, Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell. I’ve been writing ever since.

Congrats on your book, Bernice Sandler and the Fight for Title IX! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.

In Jan 2019 an article caught my eye. It was about the passing of the Godmother of Title IX, an extraordinary woman named Bernice Sandler, or Bunny, to those who knew her. Bunny’s discovery of a little-known footnote had led to the passage of the groundbreaking law in 1972. 


Until this project I had a loose understanding of Title IX. I was only one when Title IX passed and grew up basically unaware of the benefits and protections I enjoyed—benefits others had fought hard for. I took for granted things like being allowed to take Shop class instead of Home-Ec or having access to a decent uniform and locker room if I chose to play sports (I didn’t), or for it to be illegal to have been discriminated against if I’d been pregnant during any of my schooling. When I saw the long list of achievements recounted in Bunny’s obituary, with such far-reaching impact on women’s equity in education, I wondered why I’d never heard of her. Here was one of the people responsible for a law that had literally given me the legal right to access equitable education and I didn’t know her name. I’d never heard of her! It seemed wrong. 


A quick Google search confirmed that Bunny Sandler had been instrumental in the passage of TIX and was mentioned in histories of the law, yet I couldn’t find any books specifically about her, especially for young readers. I was ambivalent. The gap was good for me—it meant an opportunity, but it also meant that like so many important women, Bunny’s story had been sidelined. It was impossible to go back and have Bunny’s story for me, when I was young. So I decided to write it, hoping younger readers might know her name sooner than I did.


It felt important to share Bunny’s story, and her fight for Title IX, especially during the 50th anniversary of the law’s passage. I wanted kids (and adults) to know that Title IX is a workhorse of legislation. Bunny and fellow activists fought to make it illegal for institutions that receive federal funds to discriminate on the basis of sex. Yes, that means equitable locker rooms and uniforms regardless of gender, but the law also protects pregnant and parenting students from discrimination. And it protects against sexual harassment—from a creepy hand on your shoulder to assault. Title IX is a powerful resource everyone should be aware of. Kids should know they’re protected, that there’s a law making it illegal for them to be bullied because they don’t conform to a stereotypical concept of masculinity or femininity, that it’s illegal for sexual harassment to interfere with their education. They should know their school has to have a Title IX Coordinator. Hopefully students will never have to make use of the coordinator, but they deserve to be informed.

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

 A bit of both with this project. The book had a green light shortly after I pitched it, but COVID delayed publication by about a year. 

What projects are you working on now?

 I’m currently a graduate student at Hollins University in Roanoke, working toward my MA in Children’s Literature. I’m nearing the end of classwork, and am beginning to think about my thesis, which is tentatively a MG novel about a girl with anger issues who works in her mom’s restaurant. I’m excited about the project, but have a lot of work to do!


What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

First, ideas are all around you. Find one that sparks something inside you and run with it, even if it’s been done before. You’re the secret ingredient. Your unique perspective and voice will distinguish your project from others. Two, practice is where it’s at. I think of writing as a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Write about what interests you. Write about what doesn’t interest you. Write when you’re happy, when you’re sad, and everything in between. Just write. Exercise that muscle!


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I was part of a Relay for Life team called Rehanna’s Warriors that built a 25-foot butt to raise awareness (and thousands of dollars) for colon cancer. It was super fun!


Where can people find you online?


My website is the best place. I’ve tried to include lots of good info and material for readers and educators. You can also find me below.








Jen Barton is a goofball masquerading as an adult. She is also the award-winning author of six books for kids. She loves reading, cooking, gardening, and hopes to someday meet a dragon during a long walk in the woods. She started writing after the world’s most boring day in the car, a harrowing experience survived only by telling stories with the kids. Just a short girl with a tall imagination, Jen lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, and spends much of her time thinking of silly things to amuse children.



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  1. I've never heard of Bunny before but now want to get to know this inspirational woman who set the stage for me and all other girls who came after her. We still have much work to do, but we have come along hard-fought way.

  2. Thank you for sharing this spotlight on author Jen Barton. I look forward to reading this book.

    Recently I helped our grandson, Jaxon, with a highschool project. He research and wrote a report about Title IX.
    Suzy Leopold

  3. Like Jen, I was born right before the passage of Title IX. I knew a little bit about the legislative history from a book and that Patsy Mink was instrumental to its passing, but had never heard Bernice Sandler's name before. Very excited to read this book!

  4. I can't wait to read this book! Congrats, Jen! Love the big butt for colon cancer! How fun (and unique)!


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