Your Kid Needs to Watch YouTube Sensation Ms. Rachel—Stat

Rachel Griffin Accurso, aka Ms. Rachel of Songs for Littles, is loved by both children and parents. Why? She’s fun and provides quality screen time. Seriously.

Ms. Rachel
Photo:

Courtesy of Rachel Griffin

I spent last weekend alternating between marching around the kitchen with my kids like dinosaurs, blowing pretend bubbles of icky, sticky bubble gum, and taking little breaks to watch their favorite show: Songs for Littles. And if you’ve got kids under 4 you probably did the same.

Rachel Griffin Accurso, aka the overalls-wearing Ms. Rachel, is the star of YouTube’s Songs for Littles. The show is immensely popular, and for good reason—both children and their caregivers are obsessed with the quality screen time. As a mom of a 4-year-old and 20-month-old, I know I sure am.

The Songs for Littles community—making up over 2.4 million subscribers on YouTube, 234,000 followers on Instagram, and 1.9 million followers on TikTok—have nothing but praise for the musically-inclined educator, even going so far as to credit her with getting their kids to talk. Seriously, the comments left for the YouTube sensation sound like rave reviews for a speech therapist:

I can’t thank you enough for the gift that is hearing my little guy say “mama.” You’ve given our family so much to celebrate.

After our son turned a year old, his doctor raised concerns about his speech. My son went from having difficulties with the beginning of his speech development and after watching you for a week, he started to learn to communicate.

My two year old has speech delays and watching you has helped her more than anything! She has bloomed so much watching you and her vocabulary grows daily.

Ms. Rachel, you are a national treasure.

But who exactly is Ms. Rachel, why are so many parents giving her the stamp of approval, and how did Songs for Littles skyrocket in popularity? Here’s what you need to know.

Who Is Ms. Rachel on Songs for Littles?

The educator and songwriter

Rachel Griffin Accurso is the educator and songwriter behind Ms. Rachel and Songs for Littles. After growing up in Maine, Accurso moved to New York City in 2009 where she now resides with her husband, Aron Accurso—the Associate Music Director of Broadway’s Aladdin who, spoiler alert, also voices Herbie the puppet—and their 4-year-old son.

Since receiving her master's degree in music education from New York University, Accurso has studied speech development, early childhood development, and early intervention, and is even working on a second degree in early childhood education.

"I try to learn all I can and read a lot of research about young children so our show is informed by research and best practices," says Accurso. "My passion and calling are to help young children and their families, so I learn all I can to do this to the best of my ability."

The relatable working parent

While Accurso's face is more recognizable these days, she's not much different than the parents who are watching her with their families. In a recent TikTok, she spoke directly to her parent fans about the struggle that is raising little humans, how impossible the juggle can be, and why caregivers should ditch the guilt about filling their own buckets with what makes them happy. Even if that's another cup of coffee.

"I noticed that if I had some time to do work I was passionate about, I came back to my son more refreshed, energetic, and as a much better playmate and mom than if I was spread thin and with him every minute," she says. "I definitely don’t balance it and am always drinking coffee and freaking out. But I’m lucky to have my son at a great school which gives me time to work and I have an incredibly involved, supportive husband."

How Did Songs for Littles Start?

Accurso has always been passionate about music and teaching—she feels strongly that "all children have access to high quality early childhood education"—but it was her own child who inspired Songs for Littles.

"My son had a speech delay and I was looking for anything possible to help him," explains Accurso. "I thought it would be great if there was a show for toddlers that encouraged speech; something slow paced, very interactive, and taught by a real person. When I couldn’t find a show like that, I thought maybe we could create one."

So Accurso, who was teaching baby and toddler music classes in-person at the time, pivoted to the YouTube show we see now—filmed and edited from her one-bedroom New York City apartment.

Who Makes Up Ms. Rachel’s Cast?

"Every child deserves to see themselves in the shows they watch," says Accurso. It’s an honor to have this platform, and we’re fortunate to be able to use it to bring in so many talented creators and performers. We’re committed to making sure that kids and their families who watch our show feel included and celebrated."

Here's who you and your kids are watching on the high-quality show:

Aron Accurso

When he's not working on Broadway's Aladdin, Ms. Rachel's real-life husband, Aron Accurso, creates arrangements, underscores the show, edits, and puts Songs for Littles together. Any Herbie fans out there? Mr. Accurso also handles all of the puppets on the show.

Jules Hoffman

Chances are if you've got a Ms. Rachel fan on your hands then you've also got a huge Jules fan at home. Jules, a New York City-based singer and songwriter, stars in most Songs for Littles episodes, and has been working with Accurso since her music class days.

"I actually put an ad on Craigslist for a co-teacher for in-person baby and toddler music classes I was teaching at the time," says Accurso. "Jules saw the ad and only answered that one ad. I only interviewed Jules because I really liked their email and songwriting sample. It was meant to be!"

Supporting cast and staff

Songs for Littles fans can also thank Beth Jean for the show's animation and edits, Natalie Kaye Clater for some of the tunes you can't get out of your head, and various friends of the Accursos from Aladdin.

Does Songs for Littles Help Kids Talk?

Some parents swear that watching Ms. Rachel with their child made a huge impact on their kid's language development—but does Songs for Littles really help kids learning to talk? Probably.

When her son was working through a speech delay, Accurso learned everything she could from his speech therapists and from researching on her own. No wonder speech-language therapists are fans of Songs for Littles, too.

"I was up late at night trying to learn about speech and how I could best help him," she says. "I took many trainings and courses and read lots of books. We also learned a lot through having him in early intervention."

And not only does Accurso credit music's ability to soothe and teach kids, but she says songs with gestures also help with language development. Songs for Littles combines all of this, plus up-close shots of Accurso slowly talking and demonstrating how to say words and phrases.

So for the parents who have seen their children start speaking or having language explosions since watching Ms. Rachel—myself included—you're not alone, and there really is research behind it.

"My heart is so full," says Accurso, who doesn't tire of watching the videos parents send of their children's progress. "It’s incredibly rewarding. We’re honored to be part of children’s lives! Children deserve media that is helpful, joyful, and educational."

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