When buying colored pencils, you are paying for the softness and pigment (color) of the lead. The less expensive, the harder the lead is and the less pigment it has. The more expensive, the softer the lead and the more pigment it has.
STAGE 1: For toddlers, you want hard lead and less pigment, because they press hard and you don't want a mess. For this, we recommend Crayola.
STAGE 2: For young kids, or kids that are not toddlers, but aren't quite shading yet, we recommend Pentel colored pencils. They are slightly softer than Crayola.
STAGE 3: Once your child is ready to learn how to shade, Fibo recommends Scholar Prismacolors. These are softer than Pentel but not as soft as the "real" Prismacolors. So they are good "training wheels" for the real Prismacolor pencils.
STAGE 4: Once your child is shading and knows how to control their pressure when using the pencils, are able to add layering and are responsible enough to use a hand-pencil sharpener and know not to put their pencils in an automatic sharpener.. then upgrade to real Prismacolor pencils. These are AMAZING, soft lead pencils with incredible pigment and their artwork will instantly advance on the abilities of these pencils.
The more colors the better!