"Turtle Power," it seems, is more in vogue with the elementary set than Bullets Fever.

Just witness the more than 15,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students from Prince George's County schools who packed Capital Centre yesterday and rocked out to the hit rap theme from the popular summer movie, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

An energetic live performance of the song by Partners 'N' Kryme climaxed "Just Read It!", a rally designed to stress the importance of reading sponsored by the Washington Bullets and the school system.

Billed as the "largest reading rally in the United States" by Bullets Coach Wes Unseld, the event rivaled the "Say No to Drugs" rally two years ago at Capital Centre.

"The basic goal is that every child should read at his or her level or above," said Brenda Haliburton, who has taught at Flintstone Elementary in Oxon Hill for 18 years. "This {rally} is an opportunity for children to see that other people can make it without using drugs."

Baakari Wilder, a ninth-grader at Suitland High School, pumped up the crowd with his animated introductions of program emcee Donnie Simpson and Partners 'N' Kryme. Afterward Wilder reflected on the usefulness of the "Lookout Kids," a drug awareness program of which he is a member.

"It's important to educate the kids early so they know what it's about," said Wilder. "It helps them to remember these rules to use in the future."

Unseld challenged the attentive audience to "become better readers," led them in a pledge to read 10 books during the school year and explained the rules of the "Just Read It" contest.

The winning school from each of the six districts will receive 100 new paperback books and two tickets for each student in the school for a Bullets home game in January.

That is National Reading Month.

Bullets owner Abe Pollin joked, "If you don't read 10 books, you won't be able to come see the Bullets play and win the NBA championship."

Bullets team members Tom Hammonds and Bernard King talked about the significance of reading in their lives. Hammonds took 21 hours of course work this summer and received a degree in management from Georgia Tech last Friday.

"I had to do a lot of reading," Hammonds said. "That's how you learn. Reading improves your spelling and your vocabulary."

At an early age, King said, he found he could use reading as a vehicle to travel from his Brooklyn home in New York on "fantastic adventures." He recalled several times when his mother caught him reading in bed by flashlight under the covers.

"Reading became a habit for me at an early age," King said. "I loved to spend time in the library and I would check out up to six books at a time. I am of the attitude that reading is a foundation for everything you do in life."