When asking a question in Spanish, the subject comes after the verb. Then it's flipped when answering. Think of it like the subject is an afterthought and you are only adding at the end for clarity. "What are they reading, the kids (I mean)" "The kids are reading Harry Potter."
"does" is for third person singular (he/she/it): "does he go?" "does the dish have beets?" "she does read" (or just "she goes" when not a question or negative which is more common unless you are trying to really stress the positive as though you are being doubted).
"do" is for pretty much everything else. "do you go?" "you do go" "do the boys read" "they do read" (when not a question or a negative, drop the helping verb unless you are stressing the "do" for some reason which is proper, but not used except in those cases... and some others which might be too much for this discussion).
You are definately right that it is bad english, however it is closer to the direct translation, as there are other congegations for verbs specifically to convey "-ing" This is one of those times when a class might actually count yo u wrong if you translate it the first way, but if you were a translating professionally, you might be more accurate with the first. Neither is exactly the translation, just because of our grammer differences.
The third person singular "does" would be incorrect in English because the subject, "the boys," is plural and would therefore use with "do." If the subject were singular (i.e., "el niño," or "the boy" in English), then "does" would be correct. Your meaning is correct, but if the test is judging the answers by standardized English, it may have beed marked wrong.
When the subject is plural (children) the verb "do" stays the same. Same for when talking about yourself.
We do. They do. I do.
The only time it changes to does is if you're talking about one other thing or one other person
It would only be "does" if it were "what does the child read?"
umm thanks but i meant in spanish. its ok a friend recommended this http://www.123teachme.com/spanish_verb_conjugation/leer it will still take time to understand but i get it
I just can't win when I transliterate i.e. 'What read the children? That's wrong. And on other questions when I translate (into sensible English) that's wrong. I was going to write What do the children read? But I assumed that it would bomb. After all 'What read the children?' although it's an unusual sentence is perfectly good grammatical English.