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RuPaul promotes reading with a rainbow-colored school bus

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

If you've ever seen "RuPaul's Drag Race," you know reading is a key part of the competition.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE")

RUPAUL: Get out your library cards, girls.

(CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yes.

RUPAUL: Because reading is what?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Fundamental.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

On the show, contestants have to read or throw shade at each other, much like I do to Leila all the time.

FADEL: (Laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: Now RuPaul's promoting a different kind of reading with a rainbow-colored school bus.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUPAUL: You want to talk about reading?

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

FADEL: In videos posted on Instagram, RuPaul announced the launch of an online bookstore, Allstora, to promote underrepresented authors. To celebrate, the Rainbow Book Bus is about to go on its first cross-country tour to deliver titles targeted by book fans to people in Florida and other parts of the South where many school districts have taken books off the shelves in recent years, spurred by parents and activists.

MARTÍNEZ: RuPaul talked about the bus on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

RUPAUL: If somebody is trying to take away your power, they are trying to render you powerless. So read a book, read a book.

(CHEERING)

FADEL: In a recent interview about his memoir, "The House Of Hidden Meanings," RuPaul told Fresh Air host Tonya Mosley that books have always been a part of his life, even though he left school in 10th grade.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RUPAUL: I was never a school-type person, never school. I read books from the time I was - you know, I could read, and I watched television. I learned everything I know from watching television and reading books, that's it.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, something else he learned in his youth may also come in handy during the Rainbow Book Bus tour. He said on "The Late Show" that he started driving professionally at 16, transporting cars all over the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT")

STEPHEN COLBERT: So you're hauling back and forth across the United States at that age...

RUPAUL: Yeah.

COLBERT: ...In some strange car that you've never driven before?

RUPAUL: Yeah. No, but I can drive anything.

FADEL: Including a school bus full of banned books. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.