"De meisjes lezen de krant."
Translation:The girls read the newspaper.
De meisjes lezen de krant. The girls are currently reading the newspaper (or they have subscribed to it, in which case usually the name of a specific newspaper is used). (simple present)
De meisjes lazen de krant. The girls read the newspaper some time into the past. (simple past)
The ambiguity of the translation of 'lezen' appears to me to be in an issue with 'read', not with 'lezen'.