Vaya, Jackson boats, WS Fuse
My kids all loved the Fluid Vaya - but we live in the East where the rivers are warm so a sit on top works well.
My son started in a Jackson Shooting Star at 8 and he worked up to paddling class 4 by the end of his second summer. I bought him a Sidekick for running bigger water like the Lower Gauley and for doing class 3 creeking with his big bro's. The Shooting Star worked good as a river runner when he started - he has grown into as a playboat. His feet were too big for the Fun 1 so that is how we ended up with a shooting star.
The Fuses are nice boats too.
Like other sports better to spend the money on equipment that fits so that the child is successful right out of the gate.